Police are seeking legal advice on appropriate charges for
two men who slaughtered tame eels from the Willowbank
The pair caused an online uproar when they posted photographs
of themselves on Facebook smiling with two eels dangling from
A threatened species, the long finned eels were aged between
60 and 70 years and had lived at the Harewood sanctuary for
about 30 years.
Willowbank found the names of the two men on Facebook and
publicly released them with the photo, then provided the
information to police.
Senior Sergeant Pete Stills, of the Papanui police, said both
men approached police after the photo appeared in news media.
"We've spoken to the alleged offenders and we're seeking
further legal advice on any appropriate charges," he told The
Police were treating the incident seriously.
Willowbank operations manager Dale Hedgecock said the
Facebook photo showed the pair on reserve property and he
wanted police to prosecute them if possible.
"It's not as cut and dried as trespassing," Mr Hedgecock
"It's pretty much down to what the police want to do, so
we're leaving it in their capable hands."
Willowbank was grateful to the "huge amount of interest and
support" received in the wake of the publicity.
Some eels were starting to return to the reserve.
"They're tame - they're not fair game," Mr Hedgecock said.
He said the reserve was proceeding with plans to install
surveillance cameras to deter any further intrusions.
- By Cullen Smith of The Star