Marks­men kill very en­dan­gered species in New Zealand bird cull

The China Post - - LIFE -

A bird cull on a New Zealand is­land has been abruptly halted af­ter marks­men killed four rare takahe, an en­dan­gered species with only 300 known to ex­ist, of­fi­cials said Fri­day.

The deaths were “deeply dis­ap­point­ing,” Con­ser­va­tion Depart­ment di­rec­tor An­drew Baucke said in a state­ment.

He said “ex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers” of the lo­cal deer­stalk­ers as­so­ci­a­tion were un­der­tak­ing the cull, tar­get­ing the over­pop­u­lated pukeko on the is­land sanc­tu­ary of Mo­tu­tapu near Auck­land.

“The hun­ters had been care­fully briefed on how to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the flight­less takahe and pukeko, in­clud­ing in­struc­tions to only shoot birds on the wing,” Baucke said.

An ex­am­i­na­tion of the four dead takahe showed they were killed by shot­gun pel­lets.

Of the 300 takahe known to ex­ist, there were 21 at the Mo­tu­tapu sanc­tu­ary where the ag­gres­sive pukeko num­bers more than 1,000 and is con­sid­ered a threat to the rare species.

Deer­stalk­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Bill O’Leary told Ra­dio New Zealand he was “ap­palled” by the ac­ci­den­tal deaths.

“We’re very con­scious of the fact that the birds are an en­dan­gered species and that was the pur­pose of the cull on pukekos be­cause of the dam­age that they do to nests and to eggs.”

The takahe were thought to be ex­tinct un­til their re­dis­cov­ery in south­west­ern New Zealand in 1948.

AFP PHOTO / ZO­O­LOG­I­CAL SO­CI­ETY OF LON­DON

This hand­out im­age pro­vided March 25, 2013 by the Zo­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety of Lon­don, shows a Takahe, or South Is­land Takahe, a flight­less bird in­dige­nous to New Zealand and be­long­ing to the rail fam­ily.

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