A couple of years ago, we posted on the ethics of fossil hunting and made special reference to collecting moa sub-fossils in New Zealand. Since then, a group of New Zealand natural heritage advocates are calling on the Government to change legislation to provide better protection for the remains of extinct native species such as moa and huia.
Disturbingly, the trend for selling skeletons, bones, eggs and feathers online is increasing in New Zealand. Material that is collected illegally means that the genetic material is lost. Even if it does eventually end up in the care of a researcher, the lack of documentation about its situation in situ means that critical information cannot be recovered. Added to this, is the lack of consultation with Māori over customary rights.
The group, comprising academics, researchers, and museum professionals, have been tracking online sales and have lodged a submission to Government calling for a law change to ban the sale of extinct natural heritage items. While the removal of any material from an archaeological site or conservation land is already illegal in New Zealand, anything said to have been found on private land, or collected in the 1960s or earlier, can be sold under current laws, which makes a neat loophole for those looking to sell fossils illegally. Click here for the full article.