Federated Farmers say Britain’s declaration of an open season on Canada Geese should provide the impetus for New Zealand to classify the birds as pest.
“These fetid vermin defile crops, pasture, waterways and wildlife habitats,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers pest management spokesperson.
“In Britain, the birds pose a similarly significant threat. The wildlife advice body, Natural England, has now given farmers troubled by the geese permission to kill them with a shotgun or rifle, or trap them in a cage or net from January 1 2010.
“Here in New Zealand, geese numbers are completely out-of-control and their excrement is having a serious impact on water quality and pasture growth. A single Canada goose produces more excrement than a sheep, with most of that ending up in our waterways.
Fish and Game has a statutory obligation to control the birds’ population but hunters aren’t making a dent in the rising numbers.
“In the South Island alone, geese numbers have climbed by an alarming 44 percent in just ten years. Fish and Game’s failure to publicly release the latest June count figures, as required under the South Island Canada goose management plan, is typical of its attempt to hide the pest’s increasing population figures.
“I’m sure South Island farmers who witness these ‘winged rabbits’ munching through hectares of feed within hours would very much like to see those figures.
“The Federation wants the Department of Conservation to go a step further than Natural England. We want Canada geese declared a fully fledged pest so farmers can destroy them without requiring an excuse.
Conservation Minister, Tim Groser, is considering the status of Canada Geese and is expected to release his final decision soon.
“I sincerely hope, for the good of the country, Minister Groser ensures this pest is correctly managed. At the very least, DoC should directly oversee Fish & Game’s management of the pest.”
“Farmers, environmentalists and the country’s airports no longer have confidence in Fish & Game’s ability to manage Canada geese. “
Britain has declared open season on ring-necked parakeets, monk parakeets from South America and Egyptian geese too on the grounds they pose some threat to wildlife, crops, public safety or public health, according to Natural England.