Nelson man sentenced for shooting kea

By Leo Horgan
  • South Island

The Department of Conservation welcomed the conviction today of a Nelson man for shooting at kea, killing one.

Robert Derek Aberson of Canaan Road, Takaka Hill, was sentenced to 200 hours’ community service today in the Nelson District Court on a charge of unlawfully hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife, namely kea, in breach of the Wildlife Act 1953.  He pleaded guilty to the charge.

Judge Ruth said he recognised this was a serious matter and that the penalty starting point for this offending was a $15,000 fine but, taking into account the limited financial means of Mr Aberson to pay the fine, he imposed community service.

DOC Acting Motueka Operations Manager Kath Inwood said harming kea and other protected native wildlife was unacceptable and DOC viewed such offences very seriously.

“Kea are unique as the world’s only alpine parrot and they have a conservation status of nationally endangered. Their numbers today are estimated to be less than 5000 – a fraction of what their numbers once were.

“These intelligent and inquisitive birds need our help to protect their species.”

DOC prosecuted Mr Aberson after he admitted shooting at kea on his property in August last year. Mr Aberson told DOC staff he had killed one of the kea with a .22 air rifle.

Mr Aberson said he had shot at the kea because up to eight kea were causing damage at his property.

“If people are concerned about kea behaviour around their properties they should contact the Department of Conservation or the Kea Conservation Trust,” said Kath Inwood.

“The Kea Conservation Trust has a Conflicts Resolution Co-ordinator based in Nelson Tasman and runs a programme to provide property owners with practical help on kea proofing property and how to avoid kea hanging around.  In almost all cases favourable outcomes have been achieved for property owners and kea.”

Information about practical kea proofing solutions can be found on the Kea Conservation Trust website

The offence of hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife has penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 or both.