Protected Bird Shot with Air Rifle on Gisborne Beach, DOC Appeals for Information, New Zealand


Updated: 9:00 AM, Mon November 20, 2023

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is seeking assistance from the public after a protected bird was tragically shot with an air rifle on a beach in Gisborne. The incident resulted in the death of an adult variable oystercatcher, also known as tōrea pango, somewhere between November 1st and November 3rd. The incident occurred on or near Pouawa Beach, located 18 kilometers northeast of Gisborne city.

The lifeless bird was discovered by a camper who stumbled upon it while walking along the beach. Recognizing the significance of the finding, the camper promptly reported the incident to the DOC. DOC staff intervened by retrieving the bird and sending it to Massey University for a thorough postmortem examination.

Although no visible wounds were present on the bird, an x-ray examination revealed that two air rifle pellets were the cause of its untimely demise. Disturbingly, a second bird was found the following day under similar circumstances. While a post-mortem examination was not conducted on this bird, DOC staff strongly believe it was shot and killed at the same time as the first.

Hunting or killing protected wildlife constitutes a severe offense under the Wildlife Act. Those found guilty can face imprisonment for up to two years, in addition to substantial fines of up to $100,000. Expressing deep concern, DOC ranger Zachary Penman condemned the actions as inexcusable. He emphasized that variable oystercatchers are considered a taonga, or treasure, within Aotearoa. These birds typically thrive for up to 30 years and often remain in the same area throughout their lives.

Local campers in Pouawa have become accustomed to the presence of these beautiful creatures, and their disappearance has left a void among residents. The birds’ annual return was eagerly anticipated and their company was cherished. For many individuals in the community, losing these birds feels like losing a dear friend.

DOC is earnestly requesting anyone with information regarding this distressing shooting incident to come forward and share their knowledge. The public is encouraged to contact the Gisborne DOC office or call the toll-free number 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) and ask for the warranted officer on duty.

In conclusion, the shooting of a protected bird on Gisborne Beach emphasizes the importance of conservation efforts and the need for public vigilance. The DOC’s plea for help in finding the responsible individual highlights the significance of protecting and preserving our unique wildlife.

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Emma Scott
Emma Scott
Emma Scott, a dedicated and seasoned journalist at The Reportify, brings her expertise to illuminate the latest happenings in the dynamic landscape of New Zealand. With an unquenchable curiosity and an eye for detail, Emma is committed to delivering accurate and engaging news coverage. Stay connected with the pulse of New Zealand through Emma's insightful articles and stay informed on the stories that matter most to the region. Explore the world of New Zealand news with Emma Scott and The Reportify. She can be reached at for any inquiries or further information.

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