A complaint regarding a cow that died after becoming bogged
in mud along an unfenced stream near Whangarei has been
followed up by Northland Regional Council after a call to its
Clean streams campaigner Millan Ruka has threatened to post
photos of the cow on public online site Picasa Webb, along
with reports of the degradation which he regularly documents
along the Hikurangi Swamp and catchment's waterways.
He said the cow died a prolonged, agonising death because a
farmer had not properly fenced off the stream.
Northland Regional Council monitoring manager Colin Dall said
the council responded to the complaint earlier this month.
"We received the report on 15 November via our hotline.
"An officer did follow up the complaint and ascertained from
the farmer who owned the cow that it was removed as soon as
he became aware of it."
Mr Dall said the farmer was advised of the council's
environmental fund which provides funding for fencing.
"When we contacted the farmer he did express an interest in
fencing off the area.
"Next week we will be visiting the farmer to discuss the
issue of fencing."
No decision has been made on enforcement action regarding the
incident, Mr Dall said.
But, Mr Ruka remains unimpressed about the council's attitude
to water pollution and stream bank damage.
"Northland Regional Council is still ho-hum, unless something
is going on behind the scenes that I don't see," Mr Ruka
"They just don't get it really. I keep saying it, but will
now reluctantly load up reports on public Picasa Webb and
leave them there till we have a satisfactory resolution."
He said the cow could have taken up to three days to die
after becoming trapped.
"Fonterra are actively trying to determine if one of their
farmers owns the cow. If it is, they will remove it as soon a
possible, I have been advised."
The stream catchment feeds into the Northern Wairoa River and
downstream into the Kaipara Harbour which has the largest
harbour coastline in the southern hemisphere and is said to
be New Zealand's biggest snapper nursery.
The Hikurangi Swamp network is also a major habitat for
long-finned eels (tuna), a species identified as potentially
endangered because of loss of habitat.
Mr Ruka, the chairman of Environment River Patrol Northland
Trust and ranger with Environment River Patrol Aotearoa, has
drafted the Stock Exclusion Fencing Code (SEFRC), a process
he hopes will include Whangarei district and Northland
regional councils, central Government, farming groups and
Fonterra agreeing to legislation or codes for waterways and
fencing. SEFRC has 37 codes and recommendations that can be
applied to mitigate against effects from unfenced stock.
Mr Ruka has spent hundreds of hours kayaking the network of
waterways photographing and GPS-recording damage to the
banks, dead cattle in the water and other signs of fouling.
- Northern Advocate