Property searched; 2 charged

A six-month police investigation led to two arrests yesterday in connection with several incidents of alleged poaching in Central and South Otago.

About 20 police, including the armed offenders squad and Alexandra and Omakau officers, carried out a search of an Ida Valley property yesterday morning and seized ammunition, two 4WD vehicles and a quad bike, Sergeant Derek Ealson, ofAlexandra, said.

Following the search, a 27-year-old man and 28-year-old woman, both of Central Otago, were charged with 12 offences relating to unlawful hunting, trespass, unlawful possession of firearms and possession of cannabis, he said.

They will appear in the Alexandra District Court on Tuesday.

The investigation spanned about six months and focused on several incidents of alleged poaching in South Otago and Central Otago.

It was ''unlikely'' more arrests would be made in connection with the investigation.

GPS and dog-tracking collars were also seized during the raid ''to identify the area and location people had been in''.

Because the matter was now before the court, Sgt Ealson declined to elaborate on any further details of the alleged offending.

The armed offenders squad was called in ''because of information received about firearms and was a standard response after a risk assessment was conducted'', he said.

Members of the public should be aware people using fire-arms needed to have the appropriate licence or be under the supervision of a licensed person, and hunting had to be carried out in approved areas or with a permit.

An ''anti-poaching'' scheme was in place in Central Otago and people were urged to contact police if they saw anyone acting suspiciously, Sgt Ealson said.

''Unlawful hunting is not tolerated and police will continue to work with landowners and the local community to help reduce the effect of unlawful hunting in the area.''

It was the second time in five days the armed offenders squad had been called out in Central Otago.

On Friday, the squad was involved in a search of a Cromwell home which was suspected of being a methamphetamine lab.

Drugs were found in the house, but there was no lab, police said.

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