Plea to stop killing horses

Northern News - - FRONT PAGE - BAY­LEY MOOR

A Far North forestry com­pany has con­demned the il­le­gal shoot­ings of horses in the Aupouri for­est which left two foals or­phaned.

The SPCA is urg­ing peo­ple to come for­ward with in­for­ma­tion af­ter three horses were shot and killed in Oc­to­ber.

Kaitaia horse stud owner Sally Hunter is car­ing for ‘Aupouri Di­a­mond’ a foal, who at just a few hours old was found in the for­est af­ter its mother and an­other horse had been shot over Labour Week­end. Later that week an­other moth­er­less foal was found and is now be­ing cared for as well.

Aupouri For­est, of­fi­cially named Te Hiku For­est, is owned by Te Hiku Iwi Group and man­aged by Sum­mit Forests NZ, who al­low hunters with per­mits to en­ter the area with shot­guns dur­ing the pheas­ant hunt­ing sea­son. Aupouri Di­a­mond was found near the Hukatere Junc­tion, around 40km north of Kaitaia on a for­est road. The foal has been fos­tered by Hunter’s horse Brandee, who had ear­lier de­liv­ered a still­born foal.

‘‘It’s cruel to leave foals to die...I think they should be pro­tected,’’ Hunter says. She es­ti­mates there to be thou­sands of wild horses in the 18,000-hectare for­est.

The SPCA pro­vided milk pow­der for Hunter to feed Aupouri Di­a­mond, un­til she was taken on by Brandee. The in­ci­dent was re­ported to the po­lice and the SPCA. Se­nior in­spec­tor Tracee Knowler says leav­ing a young foal or­phaned would likely be an of­fence un­der the An­i­mal Wel­fare Act.

‘‘At this time we have not been suc­cess­ful in de­ter­min­ing who was re­spon­si­ble for the in­ci­dent and no wit­nesses have come for­ward,’’ Knowler says. ‘‘The SPCA would like to thank this fam­ily for help­ing this foal, whose sur­vival is the only pos­i­tive part of this case.’’

Sum­mit Forestry spokes­woman Karen Lu­cich says ri­fles are not al­lowed in Te Hiku For­est. ‘‘It is il­le­gal to hunt on any­one’s prop­erty with­out per­mis­sion, Te Hiku For­est is no dif­fer­ent.’’ Lu­cich says us­ing guns in the for­est is dan­ger­ous be­cause dog walk­ers, horse rid­ers, moun­tain bik­ers and run­ners also use it. ‘‘Te Hiku For­est is a special en­vi­ron­ment... it needs to be re­spected. This shame­ful be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated.’’

❚ Con­tact Tracee 021 268 6920.

A herd of horses in the Aupouri For­est [main photo] and in­set, res­cued foal Aupouri Di­a­mond with foster mare Brandee.

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