Those shooting were experienced deerstalker members who had volunteered to take part in a cull of the pukeko population that is considered to compete with and possibly endanger the rarer birds.
There may be less than 300 of the 'critically endangered' Takahe left in New Zealand and the different Pukeko birds that were the target of this Department of Conservation cull do have a similar colouring to the rare Takahe.
At first glance it does seem that it might be reasonably easy to confuse the common and fairly aggressive "puke" for the endangered Takahe .. but the Takahe is a much larger and heavier bird - and it is flightless.
Members of 'The Deerstalkers' were carefully briefed to only fire at birds on the wing - intending thereby to completely eliminate all the flightless ground birds from danger.
The cull is said to have been interrupted by the DOC supervisor being called away and replaced several times - but this is not considered to have in anyway changed the cull instructions.
The Dept. of Conservation spokesperson clarified that while they fully supported the licence suspension - because the shooters failed to properly identify their targets before shooting - they would leave any decision regarding prosecution to the police licensing authority.
South Island Maori of the Ngai Tahu Iwi Conservation board are said to be angered that the birds they had earlier sent to safe sanctuaries on North Island islands had not been properly protected there.
Member of Parliament Rino Tirakatane was quoted by RNZ as saying "It shows complete incompetence on DOC's part to bring in these Barry Crump-type good keen men."
The late Barry Crump - Author of 'A Good keen Man'