Police Safety Issues | Stories


A 17-month-old boy was shot in the back of his head with an air rifle as his father got it out of a bedroom wardrobe.

The toddler is now in a stable condition in Auckland’s Starship children’s hospital after Friday night’s incident, which police are investigating. Sergeant Geoff McCrostie, of Timaru, said police were called to a Thomas St address in Temuka about 6.30pm on Friday.

“As an air rifle was taken out of a wardrobe, it was discharged, hitting a child in the back of the head,” he said.

Canterbury Rural Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said air rifle owners didn’t have to have a firearms licence, but were encouraged to follow the Arms Act’s firearms storage rules.

“All firearms should be stored unloaded, in a secure cabinet and when handling always treat them as if they are loaded and ensure that the barrel is pointed in a safe direction,” he said. “Even though air rifles are available for purchase without a valid firearms licence, they are not toys and can cause serious harm when used incorrectly.”

The Timaru Herald  7/10/14

Our Comment:

All firearms should be checked to confirm they are UNLOADED when stored away in a secure cabinet, and, shoild always be checked to confirm they are unloaded when removed! When handling always treat them as if they are loaded and ensure that the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction.


Hunter becomes the hunted

Shots in the dark find man lost in snow

JONATHAN CARSON        23/09/2014

Karl Cossgrove was rescued from the Rainy River area after becoming lost during a hunting trip.

Huddled under a makeshift shelter in darkness and heavy snow, Karl Cossgrove loaded his rifle and fired a shot.

The Nelson 24-year-old had set out for a spontaneous hunt after finishing work on a farm near Rainy River, north of St Arnaud, about 2pm on Friday. It was meant to be a half-hour jaunt, but several hours later he was wet, freezing cold and lost. As he sat in his shelter made of tree branches and ferns he heard the faint sound of a police siren somewhere in the darkness. It was about 9.30pm. Up on a distant ridge, Constable Mike McDougall of Murchison police was flashing the lights of his four-wheel-drive vehicle and sounding the siren.

Cossgrove, an experienced bushman, had called police on his cellphone when he realised he was badly lost about 5.30pm. He told the 111 operator where he thought he was, and then his phone battery died.

McDougall and two local farmers had headed into the dense bush, between State Highway 63 and the Rainy River, soon after Cossgrove’s 111 call. On the ridge, one of the farmers fired his rifle into the air and they all hollered into the black. Then they listened.

“After about 45 minutes we thought we heard a shot,” McDougall said. “So we concentrated on a big basin. “We couldn’t see because it was pitch black and by that stage it was snowing quite heavily.” After yelling, whistling and listening he heard a faint voice in the distance.

“So we let off a few more rounds and the hunter let off a couple of rounds.” By now, Sergeant Rob Crawford had joined McDougall and two search and rescue (SAR) teams had been dispatched from Nelson and Tapawera.

The policemen and farmers formed a daisy chain and moved slowly into a gully, towards the sound of the gun shots. “I was on the end of the chain and I went a little bit further and then a little bit further and I lost sight of the torch behind me,” McDougall said.

“And I could still hear him every now and then just fading in and out.”

The SAR teams were two hours away and McDougall was worried Cossgrove might not make it that long. He decided to split from the group and yelled to the others: “I think I can find him. I’m gonna carry on.” Earlier this year, the rescue helicopter retrieved Cossgrove from Mt Robert after he fell and injured his knee. He didn’t have crampons and it was getting dark, so he called police. On Friday, Cossgrove was following two deer when he got lost. He hadn’t taken much gear. His torch wasn’t working. He didn’t bring his personal locator beacon.

“I was prepared to spend the night and start again in the morning,” he said. “Then it started to snow. It got really cold. At the end of the night there must have been at least a foot of snow on the ground.”

With only a police raincoat over his uniform and boots that weren’t waterproof, McDougall was starting to feel the cold, too. “By the time I did actually find him he was pretty relieved and he was fine,” McDougall said.

“He probably knew what the outcome was going to be if he didn’t get out that night because he was pretty cold and wet.” McDougall’s cellphone had gone flat and his radio was low on power so he let police know he’d found Cossgrove and set off his officer safety alarm, which sent his location to SAR. The two men then sheltered from the snow under a tree. Cossgrove’s hands were shaking, his body trembling. “It was so bloody cold.”

If McDougall hadn’t found him, “I don’t think I would have been OK,” he said. It took about 90 minutes for SAR to arrived and it was after 1am when Cossgrove walked out of the bush with his rescuers. Cossgrove has applied for Police College and has an assessment next month. He said he would like to join SAR some day.

– The Nelson Mail


This hunter found out the hard way that in early spring in the New Zealand outdoors weather can quickly turn back to winter conditions. The search involved the police, local farmers and two search and rescue teams were called in. That’s a lot of man hours, not to mention the inconvenience and the financial costs, all because of a lack of thought. The hunter is lucky to be alive.  He could have lost his life as it started snowing.

Three things that would have made a difference:

  • Some foresight: Look at a weather forecast – New Zealand weather can change very quickly especially at this time of the year. It can be fatal to presume that it will be the same in several hours time or it will be the same in the next valley. New Zealand can have very localised conditions. Smart hunters think ahead.

  • Make certain you carry an emergency pack at the very least, including the following. Smart hunters always carry one.

  • An emergency blanket: Made of aluminium foil, the thermal emergency blanket will retain up to 90% of body heat. Waterproof and windproof, it can be used to offset hypothermic reactions. Size: 140cm x 204cm. Ideal as a waterproof and wind-proof shelter. These blankets make excellent groundsheets or can be placed over cord to make a tent fly. Also come in a sleeping bag style. Packed they are about the size of a cigarette packet – always carry one with you. It may save your life!

  • A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). This hunter had one but did not have it with him. Again smart hunters think ahead. Personal locator beacons are cheap insurance and much less costly than having the Police, search and rescue teams involved, not to mention funerals! Can save a lot of grief too. If you have one carry it with you!

Seal shot on Stewart Island beach

DOC slams seal shooting on Stewart Island (Sept 2014)



The adult male seal had a single hole in his side and appeared to have been shot at close range with a rifle.

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The Department of Conservation has condemned the shooting of a New Zealand fur seal on a Stewart Island beach – the third seal shooting in only four months.

DOC acting Southern Islands conservation manager Jo Hiscock said the dead seal was found by trampers at the northern end of Smokey Beach on Thursday.

The adult male seal had a single hole in his side and appeared to have been shot at close range with a rifle. Hiscock said the trampers were upset and could not understand why someone would commit such a senseless killing.

“It is deeply disappointing that someone would deliberately and callously shoot a fur seal like this.”

It was the third seal shooting since May this year, including a seal shot in Napier in July, she said. A critically endangered New Zealand sea lion also washed up at Stewart Island’s Deadmans Beach in April, with an autopsy finding the young male had been shot twice with a high-powered rifle. Another sea lion was shot at Port Adventure, in Stewart Island, in June last year, and two seals had been shot on the Kaikoura coast last year.

DOC investigations into the cases had failed to identify the culprits yet. Hiscock said the incidents highlighted that DOC needed the public to help it safeguard vulnerable marine mammal species.


This is a highly illegal and irresponsible act, that can reflect on other firearms owners. New Zealand fur seals are protected by law and it is an offence to kill or harm them.

Anyone charged under the Marine Mammals Act with harassing, disturbing, injuring or killing a seal faced a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $250,000. The penalties were increased last year.

Police say poachers putting lives at risk

15 September 2014

Police in Alexandra say poachers caught on private property give a range of reasons for their offending, but many fail to realise they are putting lives at risk.

Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said poaching was widespread in the lower half of the South Island, where there were large areas of farms and forests, and plenty of people who were interested in hunting.

Mr Kerrisk estimates they receive a call from a forestry worker or farmer once a week with concerns about poachers and have recently prosecuted four people for poaching. He said it was not easy to say why people poach animals.

“Some of them have said that they hunt because they enjoy hunting, it’s a recreational thing for them, some people have said they believe they have the right to go hunting in the bush, some people have said they need food.”

Mr Kerrisk said the concern is that they are hunting on private property without permission. He said most poachers were hunting deer and pigs.