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Nests abandoned after quad bikers rip up protected beach

If you know any of these people feel free to give them a whack around the head with a tyre iron.


Locals have been left aghast after quad bike riders did donuts and jumps on a protected Golden Bay beach, causing native birds to abandon their nests.

Shorebird Protection and Forest and Bird member Cynthia McConville said she was contacted by Rangihaeata residents about a group of young people riding three ATV quad bikes at Onahau Sandspit on Friday night.

The riders were “hooning” across the beach between 8pm to 10pm, McConville said, , doing wheelies, donuts and jumps at the top of the beach.

Four pairs of variable oystercatchers – a threatened species – had been nesting in Onahau Sandspit at the time, McConville said. After Friday’s disturbance, they have since abandoned their nests.

Keith Woodley from P?korokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre describes the extraordinary journey of the bar-tailed godwit.
The quad bikes had driven straight though these birds causing them to fly away, McConville said.

McConville said group of quad bike riders had been identified, and the matter had been reported to police.

While it was legal to drive on beaches, under the Land Transport Act drivers were required to drive according to the rules of the road, and none of the riders were wearing helmets.

McConville said that the Tasman District Council needed to create a bylaw that would prohibit vehicles in spaces like the Onahau Sandspit.

Despite educating people about the birds nesting there, and putting up signs and flyers, a small group of people continued to ignore warnings visible from the beach.

“Most people in the Bay really love shorebirds and seabirds and respect them.

The birds were unable to establish nests and hatch their young due to quad bikes and other vehicles being ridden on the sand and disturbing them.

Butler said it was difficult to enforce rules about this, because people were allowed to be on beaches.

“We really do rely on people to want to look out for birds and their habitat.”

Fencing off the area was one way of allowing the birds to fledge their chicks, Butler said, and was an option.

It was something she hoped that could be looked at in the future by people who had a “responsibility” to protect the local wildlife.

“Some of these birds are quite endangered, and are reducing in number.”

A police spokesman said enquiries were currently ongoing regarding the investigation into the quad bike riders.

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