A Northland farmer has been fined more than $5000 after animal welfare inspectors found eight dead bulls on his property.
The inspectors also found most of Warren Ian Harlow’s 300 bulls were in poor condition during a visit to his Moerewa, Northland property, according to a March decision in Kaikohe District Court.
In the sentencing notes, Judge Deidre Orchard said inspectors visited Harlow’s farm in July 2018 after a member of the public reported concerns about his stock.
The inspectors found about two thirds of his stock were in poor body condition and 20 animals “were emaciated to the point that it was obviously the result of a relatively long period of malnutrition”, Judge Orchard said.
The judge found they would have been suffering, or not properly fed, for about two months.
Inspectors also found eight dead bulls on the property. One was stuck in a water dam and seven were trapped in a fenced area of pine trees.
Judge Orchard said the one in the dam appeared to have wandered in and died because it was too weak to get out.
Another bull had a broken leg and should have been euthanised as it was in pain, she said.
A number of animals also did not have sufficient water, Judge Orchard said.
Orchard told the court he was aware one of the bulls had a broken leg and he had been trying to corner and shoot it, but was “fearful” of it.
He said the lack of water would have been caused by a pipe becoming disconnected.
Harlow blamed pig hunters for leaving a gate open, allowing some of the bulls to wander into the pine block where they died after running out of food.
The judge acknowledged Harlow was isolated and lacked any support in the community, and was dealing with more bulls on his farm than he was used to.
In the past, Harlow had asked someone for help but they were “unwilling”, Judge Orchard said.
“Really what you are saying is you had no one to turn to. So you were trying to soldier on and do the best you could in the circumstances and basically you dropped the ball.”
The judge said fines imposed for serious neglect or ill treatment of animals had to reflect the seriousness of the charges.
“I am afraid some of your beasts suffered and suffered greatly,” she said.
Harlow was convicted on four charges under the Animal Welfare Act.
He was fined $5000 and ordered to pay court costs of $130 and more than $1000 in veterinarian bills.