A group of young Norwegian tourists on holiday in New Zealand displayed utter disregard for local hunting laws and reportedly “took pot shots” at several protected species. A top government official called the Norwegians’ actions “horrific,” and wants to ban them from ever entering the country again.
The tourists, young Norwegian men who weren’t identified, actually seemed proud of their illegal hunting just before Christmas, and posted their own video on YouTube this week. It was quickly picked up by New Zealand media and was getting widespread coverage in the country on Friday. A reader of Views and News sent links to some of the coverage and wrote that it was “a big story” in New Zealand.
Reaction was swift and furious. “I’m appalled, it’s despicable,” Kate Wilkinson, New Zealand’s conservation minister, told one local newscast.
Reports of the illegal hunting topped newscasts and websites, making Norwegians highly unpopular in the country on Friday. Viewers and readers vented anger in public debate forums at their Norwegian visitors.
The country’s Department of Conservation is investigating whether charges can be brought against the young men, who shot a native wood pigeon and other protected birds. They also killed at least one wallaby and a hare, and “clearly enjoyed doing it,” reported one newscaster.
The illegal hunting can bring heavy fines and six months in prison. “Is that enough? I don’t think it is,” the angry Wilkinson told 3News. “This was horrific.” Ignorance of New Zealand’s protected species laws “is no excuse,” commented one journalist for a fish and game magazine.
The illegal hunting was getting broad coverage in Norway as well on Friday. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and newspaper Dagbladet tracked down two of the five young men who have caused such uproar in New Zealand.
One told NRK he didn’t want to comment on the trip to New Zealand but might make a statement later. Another told Dagbladet that he wasn’t aware the YouTube video had sparked such outrage and claimed “we didn’t do anything illegal.” Both wanted to remain anonymous.