NZ officials track down rogue hunters

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Conservation officials in New Zealand reportedly are closing in on five young Norwegian men who recorded their own illegal hunting and posted video of it on YouTube. They face prison terms and fines if convicted.

The New Zealand Herald reported Tuesday that officials charged with enforcing New Zealand wildlife conservation laws have identified the Norwegians suspected of killing the prized and protected native kereru bird.

“We have the full names and return travel details of all five persons related to the video clips,” Reuben Williams of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation told NZPA in the Herald. The department reportedly is pursuing the five suspects through an international treaty, but hasn’t elaborated on what legal measures might be taken against them.

The five suspects are believed to have lived and worked in Tromsø, in northern Norway. They went on a shooting spree while in New Zealand late last year. They gunned down animals including a wallaby, but it was what New Zealand media calls the “slaughter” of the native kereru birds that unleashed widespread public outrage. 

The authorities have saved video of the young men shooting at a kereru, the bird falling from a tree and one of the men holding two dead, bloody birds. 

Both Norway and New Zealand are signatories to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and Williams said his department would be contacting the Norwegian authorities.

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