By Jonathan Carson
Illegal hunters could soon become the hunted.
A Nelson company has offered to lend hi-tech thermal imaging equipment to police to help catch poachers in the dark and in the act.
But police have some red tape to navigate before they can accept the offer.
Poaching has been an ongoing problem across Tasman district but more recently offenders have been arming themselves with military-grade gear, including silencers and infra-red and night vision technology, that helps them go undetected.
Farmers and landowners in the Gowan Valley, between Murchison and St Arnaud, have been confronting poachers for months but detecting them had become more difficult.
Anthony Corke, director of Archetype Precision Systems in Stoke, has offered to lend a thermal imaging unit to police, which will allow them to see and record poachers and their vehicles in the dark.
"We really just want the Murchison police to have parity. If there is someone out there then we're going to give them the means of spotting them or prosecuting, or just as a deterrent," Corke said.
"I do imagine if police do have access to one of these units then it's a big deterrent for these poachers."
The thermal imaging unit picks up body heat and will allow police to watch poachers from up to 1400 metres away. It can also pick up heat from vehicle engines and tyres, providing an indication of how long a vehicle has been parked.
Corke said he sold his night vision and thermal imaging equipment to hunters, the Department of Conservation, pest controllers, and others and was disappointed to learn that poachers have been using it unlawfully.
"We're keen to stamp out any poaching. From our perspective, we don't people to be misusing our equipment."