Horses shot dead in forest
Illegal shootings of horses in a Far North forest are leaving orphaned foals - with the SPCA urging the public to come forward with more information.
Kaitaia horse stud owner Sally Hunter is caring for ‘Aupouri Diamond’ a foal, who at just a few hours old was found in the Aupouri 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, also known as Te Hiku Forest, is managed by Summit Forests New Zealand, who allow hunters with permits to enter the area with guns during the pheasant hunting season.
Otherwise no rifles are allowed in the forest which consists of more than 17000 hectares and runs from 90 Mile Beach to Te Hapua.
Aupouri Diamond was found near the Hukatere Junction, around 40km north of Kaitaia, and has been fostered by Hunter’s horse Brandee, who sadly 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 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 SPCA inspector Tracee Knowler says leaving such 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.
‘‘Fortunately the orphaned foal is doing well and is being cared for by a very generous foster family.’’
Summit Forestry spokeswoman Karen Lucich says rifles in the forest is also dangerous for others given it has a high recreational usage including horse riding, mountain bikers, runners, beekeepers and other members of the public.
‘‘Te Hiku Forest is a special environment, a place of work as well as a great playground for many, it needs to be respected. This shameful behaviour will not be tolerated.’’
Contact Senior SPCA Inspector Tracee Knowler on 021 268 6920.