New evidence to investigate cruel killing of threatened birds

By Jessica Tyson

New evidence is expected to help police identify who killed a number of threatened red-billed gulls in Kaikōura yesterday.

According to the founder of the Kaikoura Wildlife Rescue, Sabrina Luecht, eight birds were found dead on Sunday morning and another one had to be euthanised.

She told Rereātea today that an autopsy of the birds will be done to determine the gun used to shoot the birds.

It appeared the gulls were shot with something like an air rifle, slug gun or BB gun followed up with some either being stamped to death or run over with a vehicle, says Luecht.

Footage from security cameras in the area will also be viewed by police to identify any suspicious behaviour or people in the area.

Red-billed gulls found dead yesterday adjacent to the aquarium on Kaikōura Whakrf. Source: Kaikoura Wildlife Rescue, Facebook

"It was atrocious. I got a call from a local who had been informed about it by some of her guests,” says Luecht.

“When I arrived there were tourists and children - a really horrific site especially for kids and people visiting New Zealand hoping to experience lovely wildlife encounters because we've got a great reputation for our environment and having to explain something like that is not pleasant.  It was an awful sight and really malicious.”

The red-billed gull is listed as a threatened species in the New Zealand Threat Classification System and protected under law.

According to research the species has suffered huge declines nationally, in particular at its three main breeding colonies on the Kaikoura Peninsula, Three Kings Islands, and Mokohinau Islands. 

At Kaikoura the population declined by more than 50 percent between 1983 and 2005.