Farmers and hunters should celebrate 9 June as Canada Geese freedom day, with the bird now a pest. It means no legal protection for this pest bird and no need to buy a permit in order to shoot them. As far as Canada Geese is concerned, it is literally ‘fire at will’.
“Fish and Game’s management regime was simply not up to the task of controlling the bird’s numbers. The 1995 Canada Goose Management Plan set a population limit of 20,350 in the South Island but by 2008, that figure was over 35,000,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.
“It’s bizarre Fish & Game’s Chief Executive has described this as a success, but for whom?
“Canada Goose is a foul water fowl, impacting not just pasture but fouling water as well.
“Now the task of controlling the bird’s numbers will fall to a number of other organisations, including Federated Farmers.
“The Federation has been working with Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Conservation as well as like-minded industry groups to establish a central process to manage Canada Geese.
“We’re open to groups of hunters who should welcome the freedom of hunting without the cost or restrictions of a permit. As far as Canada Goose is concerned, we have a year-round season and no bag limit.
“The key is to act in a cost effective and collective way to manage numbers with the objective of reducing the bird’s overall population in the long term. On Fish and Game’s watch, this pest had exploded in numbers and colonised new areas.
“We’re establishing an ‘overarching group’ to look at data, such as population concentrations, consider expert advice and make recommendations to regions where the problem is prevalent. Federated Farmers will assume the chair of this group.
“Under effective management, the problem should be contained without inclusion in any regional pest management strategy or similar council led mechanism. This group could also coordinate regional responses in areas such as Lake Wairarapa and Lake Ellesmere, where Fish and Game lost control of the pest.
“It’s unrealistic to expect that we can ever eliminate this noxious pest, but like with rabbits in Central Otago, we can work to reduce and control their numbers.
“Another key goal for Federated Farmers and our partners is to monitor the pest’s geographic spread. We don’t want these pests setting up in new areas, when existing locations are tough enough to control,” Mr Aubrey concluded.
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