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Fed Farmers Wants Open Season On Canadian Geese

Geese: Drastic Action Needed

Canada geese should be removed from the Wildlife Act's list of game birds, paving the way for a strategy to cut back numbers of the introduced pest, says John Aspinall, a National Board member of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

Mr Aspinall's comments follow the Federation's National Council passing a remit calling on the government to remove the "grubby goose" from the Act's first schedule, which places limits on how and when the bird can be killed.

The bird should instead be placed under the Act's fifth schedule --giving it no protection and the possibility of being tagged a pest, allowing more effective culling techniques.

"Losing its protection would allow landowners, councils and others in the community to act more aggressively to bring this pest down to manageable levels," Mr Aspinall said.

"Hunters don't appear to recognise the high costs of these problem pests. It is not only the amount of grass consumed, but damage caused by geese defecating," he said.

The remit was passed Wednesday, the final day of the federation's annual National Council meeting in Wellington. The National Council includes the National Board and representatives from provinces, affiliated organisations, delegates, industry groups, and share milkers.

The goose was brought to New Zealand in 1905 by the predecessor of Fish and Game New Zealand. They were introduced as sport but the population grew so rapidly they have been dubbed "rabbits with wings".

In 1995 Fish and Game agreed to manage the goose down to a population of 20,350 in the South Island. It has consistently failed to reach that target.

But the problem now extends way beyond the South Island, with a rapid increase in geese numbers near North Island lakes, into which they dump their droppings.

Each goose eats daily the equivalent of food consumed by two-to-three sheep. A thousand geese produce about 350 kg of droppings a day.

"In the Mackenzie basin recently a farmer lost 24 hectares of precious autumn-saved greenfeed to geese. He didn't grow grass for geese to eat. This happens all the time," said Mr Aspinall.

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