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Federated Farmers On Another Wild Goose Chase

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Federated Farmers On Another Wild Goose Chase

"Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmer's spokesman on Canada Geese, is off again on a wild goose chase and letting political rhetoric get in the way of fact", says Jay Graybill, chief executive of Central South Island Fish & Game (CSI). "The reality is that the South Island goose population has been relatively stable for the past 17 years at about 32,000 birds plus or minus about 10%. Hunters harvest 14,000 birds per year on average and this is supplemented by Fish & Game culls that take an additional 8,000 birds per year on average."

"I do agree with Mr. Aubrey that Canada geese are spreading but we disagree on the reason. The goose population is simply following the expansion of agricultural development. The equation goes: more grass = more food = more habitat = better survival = more geese. A classic example is Lake Ruataniwha in the Mackenzie Country where geese were seldom seen prior to 2003. Since a dairy conversion adjacent to the lake in that year with irrigated paddocks, geese are now regular residents on Lake Ruataniwha. To add insult to injury, the farmer complained of "goose problems" in April 2004."

"Mr Aubrey hasn't caught up with the fact that we now apply 'effects-based' management of geese. Under this regime Fish & Game controls numbers within general population ranges and then if a farmer has a specific problem (an effect) we deal to that. This is what most farmers tell us they want and as a result the number of complaints has reduced dramatically. This strategy has been applied to Mr Aubrey's own property, Ben Mcleod Station where between 2001 and 2007 problems were reported in only 2 years, 2001 and 2005, and on both occasions Fish & Game carried out culls. That's the way effected-based management works."

"We have records of farmer complaints from 2001 through 2007. Over that period complaints averaged 13 per year. Putting this in perspective, out of the 146 high country stations in the Central South Island Region, only 12 have reported goose problems more than twice in 7 years. Mr Aubrey would be well advised to work constructively with Fish & Game as most high country farmers do rather than sniping from the sidelines with inaccurate and exaggerated information."

"It's time we put the number of geese and the number of stations affected into perspective. Research shows that 4-5 geese equal 1 stock unit (55kg ewe). Therefore 28-35 geese equal 1 dairy cow. On that basis the entire South Island population of 32,000 birds is equivalent to less than 1,200 cows, hardly a large mob by today's standard farm."

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