New Zealand environmental watch proposed

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Describing those who steal plants and wildlife as "looting the country" New Zealand officials want the public to report any possible park pilfering.

"I see them (smugglers) as people who are looting the resources of our country," said New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter.


The public is hugely important in helping to stop plant and wildlife smuggling, according to Carter, who wants to set up an "environmental neighborhood watch system" that allows hikers and hunters to report suspicious activity in national parks and other rural areas.

Two Czech men were charged Sunday with taking native orchids and plants from New Zealand national parks and attempting to smuggle them out of the country, the Wellington Dominion Post reported.

The men, whose names have not been disclosed by police, face fines of as much as $100,000 and/or five years' jail if convicted under the Trade in Endangered Species Act and the National Parks Act.

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