DOC staff say they are appalled at reports of protected seabirds found killed or injured by blowdarts in Waikanae.
In a statement, the Department said there had been two Facebook posts in the last fortnight regarding sightings of red-billed gulls on the Kapiti Coast with blowdarts lodged in them. One bird was found dead, while the other had the dart impaled in its leg, it said.
Red-billed gulls/tarāpunga are a protected species under the Wildlife Act, and the maximum penalty for the disturbance of protected species is a fine of $100,000 and/or imprisonment for two years.
DOC Supervisor, Melody McLaughlin says the Department was alerted to the issue by the local SPCA and concerned locals
“People may not be aware the red-billed gulls are a Nationally Vulnerable species,” she said.
“Although they are reasonably common, their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate.
“This behaviour demonstrates an astonishing lack of respect for the life and welfare of our protected species, and we are taking the matter extremely seriously.
“Our threatened wildlife shouldn’t be used for target practice.”
Blowdarts and blowguns are originally weapons used by ancient cultures in the Americas and Asia, primarily to hunt small creatures for food.
Modern versions of the weapon and the darts are readily available through New Zealand hunting, firearms and outdoor equipment retailers, and promotion of the products states the darts can pierce through soft drink cans.
If you see anyone harming or interfering with wildlife, or who has information on the incidents which have been shared to Facebook, you should contact 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) or firstname.lastname@example.org.