The nine gulls died from crush injuries as a result of being run over on Kaikōura wharf on 16 June last year.
Trevor James Baillie, 65, was sentenced in Blenheim District Court today to three months’ community detention with a 9 pm to 6 am curfew. He had pleaded guilty to a charge of hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife in breach of the Wildlife Act 1953.
DOC South Marlborough Operations Manager Phil Bradfield says the conviction is a reminder the red-billed gull/tarāpunga is a protected native species and DOC views harming them very seriously.
“Red-billed gulls are commonly seen in coastal areas but their numbers nationally are declining at an alarming rate. The species currently has a conservation status of ‘at-risk: declining’.
“Kaikōura historically is a stronghold for red-billed gulls with the species’ largest South Island breeding colony on Kaikōura’s coastal cliffs. The gulls’ breeding success and the size of the colony have decreased markedly over the past 20 years and the population is in serious trouble.
“Tarāpunga are a taonga species for Ngāi Tahu including Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura.”
Mr Baillie contacted police and DOC following news reports about the dead red-billed gulls.
He told DOC staff he had parked down on the wharf for about 15 minutes and his car had been surrounded by gulls when he went to leave. Mr Baillie said as he went to drive off the wharf, he attempted to move the gulls by tooting his horn as he moved his car forward slowly. He felt bumps as he drove off the wharf and thought he might have run over two or three gulls, however, he did not stop to check.
DOC staff endeavoured to replicate what Mr Baillie said had occurred, driving slowly towards gulls on the wharf, tooting the horn. The gulls immediately flew off and were in no danger of being run over.
The offence of hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife carries a maximum penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000, or both.