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Investigation underway after 'cowardly' shooting of eight gannets at Auckland colony

An investigation is underway after the deaths of eight gannets at Auckland's Muriwai colony.

Muriwai gannet colony nesting on cliffs Source: istock.com

In a statement today, Auckland Council said that the police, Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Council are conducting a joint investigation and are seeking information from the public into the incident.

The colony is based at Maukatia by Muriwai Beach in West Auckland.

The dead gannets or tākapu were discovered on March 8, the day after Auckland emerged from the most recent lockdown.

“It is incredibly sad to see such an ignorant, selfish and cowardly act, and at a time when the tākapu colony is at its busiest with thousands of nesting birds who make Muriwai their home between August and March every year to raise their chicks,” said the council's  principal ranger Stephen Bell.

“Testing and x-rays indicate that the tākapu were shot dead with pellets, likely from an air rifle, some multiple times.

“We are giving our full support to the Police and DOC, including providing them with CCTV footage of the area in the days leading up to the gruesome discovery of the dead tākapu.

“Volunteers from within the community have spent countless hours protecting the birds from introduced predators and we never would have seen the need to protect them from people,” says Mr Bell.

As with all native wildlife, tākapu are protected under the Wildlife Act 1953 says DOC Tāmaki Makaurau Acting Operations Manager, Rebecca Rush.

“The Wildlife Act protects most native species from hunting and the penalty for killing protected wildlife is up to two years in prison or a fine up to $100,000. We are saddened to see such a disregard for this protected species,” says Rush. 

Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee Councillor Alf Filipaina says the senseless killing is very upsetting both for the community, ranger staff and for visitors from further afield.

“The Muriwai colony is the most visited and accessible tākapu colony in the country, and it really is a privilege to observe this unique species on our regional parkland and in such a spectacular setting on Auckland’s wild west coast.

“I strongly encourage any members of the public who might have some information about the killing of these tākapu to come forward,” says Filipaina.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Police on 105, quoting file 210324/5059 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.