Deer agent fined for illegal develveting

29 May 2008

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) welcomes today's convictions of Noel Cudby in the Wellington District Court for the develveting of deer without adequate pain relief and the required approvals.

Mr Cudby was found guilty of illegally performing a significant surgical procedure under the Animal Welfare Act. He was fined $1000 and ordered to pay court costs.

The Waikanae deer agent and farmer was charged with the develveting of deer on two separate properties, on different occasions, without the necessary approvals and without adequate pain relief. After the first incident, Mr Cudby had been warned by MAF not to repeat the offence and vowed he would not do so. Within six weeks of that warning Mr Cudby had offended again on another property. In that case, a local deer farmer, Vincent Connolly, had earlier pleaded guilty to authorising Mr Cudby to perform the illegal develveting.

MAF Investigation Manager Greg Reid said the National Velvet Standards Body (NVSB) programme is critical to New Zealand’s market access in Europe and cases such as this have the potential to put our exports at risk. It is equally important that our trading partners see that we take a tough stance on those few who break the rules.

“It is very disappointing that a person of considerable background in the industry had not been prepared to adhere to the requirements of the Deer Industry NZ scheme for velveting and animals suffered unnecessarily because of his irresponsible actions. This type of action can have serious consequences for other deer farmers and their industry.

Deer velvet removal is a controlled surgical procedure under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The procedure can only be carried out by a registered veterinary surgeon or by approved persons accredited under the National Velvet Standards Body (NVSB) programme. The failure by Mr Cudby to comply with this system not once but twice, is absolutely inexcusable,” Mr Reid said.

To amputate velvet without providing adequate pain relief causes unnecessary suffering, which has been likened to having your fingers chopped off without any anaesthetic.

The New Zealand deer industry exports 80% of farmed venison to Europe, where develveting stags is deemed illegal on welfare grounds. It is only due to NVSB’s detailed and closely monitored develveting programme that New Zealand can continue to export to this market. Any deviation from the accepted and scientifically based velvet harvest programme could result in the application of non-tariff trade barriers which would have a devastating effect on the deer industry.

Media Contact:

Greg Reid | Investigations Manager | MAF Biosecurity New Zealand | Phone: 029-909 3544

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33