Canada Geese from protected to pest

Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson’s announcement that permits will no longer be required for the shooting of Canada Geese is a welcome one.

“As the population of Canada geese continues to increase so does their risk to aviation safety and the damage they inflict to pasture and crops,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“The current status where the geese populations are managed as a game bird is not working.

“Farmers have been getting increasingly frustrated with these birds fouling pasture and damaging crops.

“They also pose an aviation hazard due to their large size and this change will allow for the birds to be more effectively controlled where they pose a risk to aircraft safety.”

Ms Wilkinson says there are tens of thousands of Canada geese across the country and recreational hunting opportunities will remain.

“I expect Fish and Game to continue to work with landowners to assist with managing populations around the country.

“The geese are well established and on top of that farmers will have an incentive to provide hunting access to reduce their goose control costs.”

Fish and Game isn’t happy:

But Fish & Game is calling the decision an “own goal” for Federated Farmers, which lobbied for the change.

“The small group within Federated Farmers who lobbied the minister so hard on this issue will probably spin this as a win,” says chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“Ironically though, the minister’s decision will foist the considerable expense of goose control onto their membership and, indeed, all farmers if the expected push for ratepayer-funded regional councils to take responsibility for control happens.”

This just shows how little Fish & Game knows about farmers, many of whom are forced to fund the organisation through hunting and fishing licences.

Federated Farmers is pleased that Canada Geese have been removed from the protected species list and can now be regarded as the pest they are.

“Federated Farmers has long been campaigning for the Canada Goose to be declared a pest. It’s not native, it spoils the environment and is even an air traffic hazard,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers game and pest animal management spokesperson.

“Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson’s announcement was inevitable, the population was getting out of control. For example, South Island Canada Goose Management Plan in 1995 set a population limit of 20,350. In 2008 that figure was 35,000.

“We applaud her for having the courage to make this decision after five years of consideration and following extensive lobbying by Federated Farmers.

“The Canada Goose was introduced to New Zealand as a game bird and has provided many landowners with nothing but trouble. It puts huge pressure on the environment, damaging crops, spoiling waterways with excrement and outcompeting native birds for resources.

“It adds thousands of dollars to the costs of doing business in the South Island especially.

“This ruling finally allows farmers to defend themselves against Canada Geese.

Christchurch Airport also supports the change in the birds’ status:

Christchurch International Airport Ltd (CIAL) has come out in support of the change in protection status of Canada Geese.

“This bird is a hazard to aircraft,” said CIAL Chief Executive Jim Boult. “Canada Geese are large and cumbersome birds which can cause a great deal of damage if they collide with aircraft.”

Jim Boult pointed out that the Canada Geese population had steadily increased in Christchurch city over the last few years, which raised the risk of bird strike to aircraft. “We want to keep the population of Canada Geese to manageable levels, which will help keep the airspace as clear as possible.”

Fish and Game’s management of the species allowed the bird population to grow.

Airports, councils and farmers can now declare open season on the pest to make airspace safer and reduce the negative impacts the birds have on the environment through pollution of waterways, competition with native species and damage to crops.

12 Responses to Canada Geese from protected to pest

  1. pdm says:

    Canada Geese are a problem on the Isle Of Lewis in Scotland where I am pretty sure they are also protected. There are scarecrows everywhere as they decimate crops aand the growig season is short enough anyway.

  2. Fredinthegrass says:

    Off thread Rg.
    I would be interested in your opinion re Canada Geese.
    On a lake near us in the Rangitikei a good friend told me he had just seen 4 Canada Geese, and he was quite excited.I suggested he might consider getting rid of them while the number was so low.
    He laughed, and said they would not be a problem.
    Last year I asked him about his geese population.
    Hp would ban me if I printed his reply!
    The tally he thought would be in excess of 600 and the damage to the lake water quality – not to mention his pasture and crops – was massive.
    I rested my case!

  3. dutchie down south says:

    @Fred,
    didn’t you know that RG is the cuckoo under the bloggers?
    Like a true cuckoo he keeps his own blog squeaky clean with la di da photos of a dandelion and crocuses but hijacks everybody else their blog

  4. robertguyton says:

    ‘squeaky clean with la di da photos’ – that would mean that the link I ‘hijacked this thread’ with must lead to a ‘la di da’ photo of a flower – so what’s the problem with that Dutchie?
    The Federated Farmers’ response to the Waituna Lagoon issue is, to use your words, la di da, as in ‘heads in the clouds’, ‘cuckoo land’. David Rose’s comments challenging the science are irresponsible in the extreme.

  5. robertguyton says:

    Fred – I’ve no experience with Canada geese or the issue they are central to, so I can’t comment.

  6. Fredinthegrass says:

    Appreciate your frankness, Rg.
    I have considerable second hand experience having many farmer friends in Canterbury.
    One episode that comes to mind – the farmer is drilling seed and looks around to see Canada geese following the drill eating the seed as he planted it.
    Infuriated, he follows the rules and rings the appropriate authority to be told they could possibly organise a ‘legal’ shoot that evening, or maybe tomorrow.
    Not impressed, he retaliated with – “it will take me 10 minutes to assemble my gun and a further 10 to reach the offending flock. I am leaving now”. With that he put the phone down.
    Some 15 shooters made it within the half hour.
    An unnecessary slaughter took place that could have been avoided if Fish and Game had allowed the proper measures to be taken years earlier.
    It is this sort of frustration, Rg, that infuriates farmers.
    The geese have a huge effect on environment and income.

  7. robertguyton says:

    I can understand the frustration Fred – my own grain sowing effort always inviolve some snarling at the passerines!
    Do geese dibble-down into the drilled earth to get buried seed? I lost a whole potato crop (special purple variety) to geese one year. Ate well though.

  8. Fredinthegrass says:

    Dibble they do,Rg. Glad to see the spuds were not lost completely!

  9. robertguyton says:

    I did a little research fred, and the issue seems to be site-specific – the high country farmers like to be able to shoot on site, the lowland farmers happy to have F&G manage the issue through their levy. In Southland, numbers are controlled, in the high country, not so. Seems to me a blanket solution has been applied where a bio-region-appropriate one would have been better but no worries, seems the ratepayer will foot the bill if the regional councils have to step in to control the pest, as seems likely. Our own council is making preparations already – including the bird in it’s pest hit-list.

  10. Fredinthegrass says:

    All very true, Rg, but the cost to ratepayers is far greater than it need have been if advice, and action, had been taken earlier.
    A case of the horse and the stable door!!

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