More minors involved in illegal dog hunting

2014-06-18 00:00

AS dog hunting in greenbelt bush areas around Pietermaritzburg decimates wildlife, the hunters being used in conjunction with the dogs are getting younger and younger.

A group of children who hunt in the Prestbury and Blackridge areas are as young as 10 to 12 years old. Those who are against the practice say the children are deliberately being used by adults who know the law has no recourse against minors.

Ward councillor in the area Glenn McArthur said he has been taking the matter up at the local Community Policing Forum and forwards complaints to municipal security.

McArthur forwarded e-mails sent to him by concerned residents to The Witness.

One sighting in Blackridge reported seeing five to six young boys walking along the old railway line with a pack of 40 to 50 dogs that looked underfed and thin. Another reported a group of five to six youths, some very young, and about 10 dogs. The youngsters have also been spotted in the forests behind Marwick Road on numerous occasions.

McArthur said there were concerns from residents about their safety while walking their dogs along roads in the suburbs or tracks in the forest and coming across the hunting dog packs.

“People are concerned because it’s assumed these dogs have not been inoculated for rabies. The dogs are not on leashes and are uncontrolled. Residents and their domestic workers are terrified of coming across these packs of dogs. It’s a security concern and the municipality has an obligation to deal with it.”

Wildlife expert Mark Enslin said that adults were sending children out to hunt so they could avoid prosecution.

Enslin said the law provided that hunting dogs could be shot if the landowner agreed to it.

But, he said it was often difficult to get the permission of landowners and you have to be 100% sure the facts are right.

He urged people who found poachers on their land to call him immediately. “We can stop it.”

He said hunting had a huge impact on much of the local wildlife.

“You find 10 to 20 dogs tackling a buck and injuring it, then the people come with a knobkierrie and crush its skull.”

McArthur said he had also noticed a decrease in wildlife in the conservancy in Boughton.

He said the dogs should be impounded as they were having a “massive effect on the wildlife” there. “There used to be buck and other animals; now there is nothing.”

He said wildlife in the area around Celtis Road had also suffered after forstery had gone to great lengths to restore indigenous vegetation to streamlines, which had wooed the wildlife back, only for it to be annihilated again by the hunters.

According to Enslin, quoting guidelines on hunting with dogs, it is illegal to hunt game with dogs without a permit from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and without written authority of the landowner.

Alistair Sinclair of the Pietermaritzburg SPCA, said that if the dogs were with their owners, they could not impound them. He said people should contact Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to get help as the hunting of wildlife fell under the wildlife authority or the police. “We do assist.”

A Prestbury resident said she often sees the children and their dogs walking up a track in the forest behind Marwick Road. “I always shout at them to go away and tell them I am calling the police. They usually run away, only to return again some weeks later. They were there two weeks ago and the biggest boy, who can’t have been more than 13, apologised and left, but I know they’ll be back.”

• Call wildlife expert Mark Enslin on 079 951 4777 to report illegal hunting in your area.

• newsed@witness.co.za

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