Plea to stop killing horses
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.