A Nelson woman was horrified to find two weka caught in illegal leg-hold traps in Hira last Monday.
Pip Collins and her friend were riding their horses down Rayners Rd when they found the weka, which were tangled in grass about half a metre from the road.
“Initially we thought they were stuck in the grass, but then we realised they were stuck in traps,” says Pip, who is a huge animal lover.
Both weka had broken legs, and were in a great deal of distress.
“We took them back to the farm where I keep my horse, and after seeing the state of the birds we decided that it would be much more humane to put them out of their misery,” adds Pip.
“It was very sad and traumatic for everyone involved and we were very angry and worried because it could’ve been our horses that went in the trap – or my dog or any one of the small children who often walk down that road.”
Pip has reported the incident to Ministry for Primary Industries, who are already investigating it – although she says it will be hard to find out who was responsible for setting the traps.
The Department of Conservation has also been alerted, who say the penalties for injuring or killing a protected species are “quite serious.”
DOC’s Paul Thornton says they are “very concerned” about the injury to the weka, which is the first such incident they have experienced in the region.
However, he says that the protected birds are becoming more common around the city so it’s inevitable that they will start getting more issues with them.
“It may be that the people who set the traps were attempting to get possums, without realising that they need to have a particular type of device that is either affixed or raised above ground level so that ground birds cannot step on them.”
He says that trappers needed to follow guidelines laid out by the Department of Conservation.
They recommend that traps are set at least 700mm above the ground to prevent native birds being caught.
Penalties for breaching guidelines are fines, which range from $100,000 to $200,000. Paul says that if they get any information on who may have set the trap that caught the weka then they would definitely investigate.