17 Mar 2011

Farmers allowed to cull Canada Geese

1:45 pm on 17 March 2011

Farmers have been given permission to control what they regard as a serious pest on their properties, following years of lobbying.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has lifted the protected game bird status of Canada Geese to allow landowners and aviation managers to cull the birds themselves.

That means Fish and Game will no longer manage the geese as a hunting resource and farmers won't be required to have a permit to shoot them.

Farmers regard the large migratory birds as serious pests because of the large amounts of pasture they eat or spoil.

They say two or three geese can eat the same amount of grass as one sheep.

Federated Farmers' game spokesperson Donald Aubrey says the organisation has been calling for the protected game status to be removed for years so they can curb geese numbers themselves.

Ms Wilkinson says the status has been lifted because of the birds' huge economic, safety and environmental impact.

She says she will continue to monitor how effective the decision is on Canada Goose numbers.

However, the Fish and Game Council is disappointed by the announcement.

Its Nelson Marlborough manager Neil Deans says the council and hunters were managing numbers and he believes the change will see populations explode.

He says the birds are extremely mobile and hard to manage.