Debrah Novak

Charge, fine for plover killer

A FORMER Coffs Harbour local, Joshua Vander Meulen has been convicted and fined $6000 after pleading guilty in Coffs Harbour Local Court to shooting a masked lapwing, a protected native species, in Yuraygir National Park last year.

Charges of harming an animal in a national park and discharging a prohibited weapon in a national park were laid after National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) officers received a report from a concerned park visitor at the Pebbly Beach Campground, in the southern section of the national park in October last year.

The court heard Vander Meulen set up camp near the nest of two adult masked lapwings, also known commonly as plovers or spur-winged plovers which contained at least one chick.

After hearing one of the adult birds 'squawking' Vander Meulen shot and killed it with his compound bow and arrow before burying the bird in the sand.

NPWS North Coast Region Manager Alan Jeffery said the Court's decision sends a strong message that the community does not tolerate wildlife being harmed.

"National parks provide important habitat for wildlife and play a key role in protecting biodiversity," Mr Jeffery said.

"These are also places for people to enjoy and appreciate nature in a safe and relaxed family atmosphere.

"People can report suspected incidents of unlawful harming of wildlife to Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000, their nearest NPWS or RSPCA office.

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