By ROBYN BRISTOW
A critically endangered kotuku – white heron – is recovering after being shot, but its long term prognosis is uncertain.
When collected by the Department of Conservation (DOC) from a Tram Road property last Saturday where a family was caring for it after finding it injured, it had injuries to its chest and both wings, with the end of one wing hanging with exposed bone.
Anita Spencer a senior ranger biodiversity at the Mahaanui (Christchurch Office) took the heron to volunteer bird rehabilitation expert Jackie Stevenson.
Jackie works in with the Shirley Veterinary Clinic where it was x-rayed revealing pellets lodged in its body.
The vets have closed the wound on the wing but it was too dangerous to remove the pellets. It is now back being cared for by Jackie and its long term prognosis uncertain as it is not known if it will grow back the primary feathers and be able to fly again.
DOC is asking for people to call (03) 3419100 if they have any information about the shooting of the bird in the vicinity of Tram and Woods Road.
Heron are fully protected under the Wildlife Act and the penalties for offending are imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both.
Anita says it is hard to fathom how somebody could see a bird as beautiful and rare as a kotuku and decide to shoot it.
“White herons do sometimes stake out peoples goldfish ponds but if people have problems with protected wildlife they should ring DOC in the first instance,” she says.
Anita says the loss of one white heron is significant due to their low numbers. Recently one was euthanised after being found in South Eyre Road with a broken wing.