By Nick Truebridge
Police and farmers are stepping up moves to catch poachers in the Hakataramea Valley.
The installation of cameras and setting up of farmer groups, comes in the wake of recent poaching incidents in the area.
Earlier this month Omarama police reported a woman was woken by a spotlight reflecting through her bedroom window and the sound of shots being let off close to her house. She dived under her bed and called police.
Omarama constable Nayland Smith✓ said that same night there was a report of a vehicle reversing and driving off a property after being approached by a farmer. Police had the maroon Toyota Hilux Surf's registration number and enquiries were continuing.
Hakataramea Valley farmer John Dale was standing 20 metres away from a deer when it was shot by suspected poachers. Dale, who manages Table Top Station, said it was "not the first time" incidents such as the woman being woken by a spotlight and hearing shooting nearby, had occurred. Local farmers were taking steps to assist in catching poachers.
"It's a time of year thing. People have got over duck and deer hunting. But 99 per cent (of farmers) have got no problem with someone coming on (to their property) as long as you come and ask.
"I've seen a lot. We've got a pretty good wee group going now. We're in the process of getting cameras in the area."
For those living where poaching was common, Dale said it was "a matter of working with the police". That included getting the vehicle registration of suspected poachers.
If someone saw a vehicle, another could cut it off and get the registration number.
Poaching was also a "safety thing", Dale said, pointing out how many accidental shootings there had been, even in daylight.
"I was sitting with my boy watching deer one night and the next thing you know it fell over. It's a safety thing. We were 20 metres away," Dale said.
About a dozen residents in each of the Meyers Pass and Upper Hakataramea Valley areas, were looking out for poachers.
"There's quite a big group. We're in the throws of getting more," Dale said.
Smith said Saturday and Sunday had been quiet in the valley.
"I was down there on Saturday and didn't see a vehicle."
Poaching had been on the increase in the Hakataramea, which was concerning. Smith said if reports of poaching continued it was possible a police operation would be established.
On Friday Waimate sergeant Mike van der Heyden also voiced concern over the poaching.
"There's a number of areas right around from Fairlie up into Hakataramea."
Senior Sergeant Dylan Murray of the Timaru police, said police were "well aware anecdotally" of poaching in South Canterbury, but there were few formal complaints.
While there was no "specific operation" to tackle poaching, police took the issue very seriously. He said police were very dependent on receiving information.
"We are starting to work out how we can work better and respond to such calls to do with poaching. But it's not an easy fix," Murray said.
Poaching presented a "high risk of injury".