The population explosion of introduced Canada Geese is seriously impacting New Zealand’s farmers, waterways and waterfowl due to the irresponsible actions of Fish & Game New Zealand, which has failed its statutory obligation to manage this pest by spreading it to new parts of the country.
“This introduced bird does not have any redeeming features,” says Donald Aubrey, Federated Farmers pest management spokesperson.
“The Canada Geese population in the South Island has jumped by an alarming 44 percent in just ten years. These birds literally breed like rabbits.
“Being aggressive, this explosion in numbers brings them into direct competition with native waterfowl for habitat. Not only that, they consume crops like locusts and their excrement seriously impacts water quality and pasture. They are foul waterfowl.
“It’s no secret the aviation industry is seriously concerned with the increased numbers. The crash-landing of United Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January was caused by a flock of Canada Geese shortly after takeoff,” Mr Aubrey added.
Federated Farmers maintains that the Canada Geese population must be strictly controlled. Fish & Game may see the geese as a recreational resource, but farmers, aviators and environmentalists view the bird as a ‘possum with wings’ due to its ability to adapt and colonise new areas.
“If we could turn back the clock and stop the introduction of possums, rabbits, stoats and other pests we would. Yet Fish & Game seem determined to spread this pest to every corner of New Zealand and that has to stop,” Mr Aubrey continued.
“This is why the Federation’s submission on the level of protection the bird enjoys calls for it to have no protection whatsoever. We want a 24/7 open season as it is an exotic and unwanted pest that should not be in New Zealand.
“Fish & Game, which is meant to control the population, has instead aided its spread. This failure means the Federation has no confidence in Fish & Game’s ability to manage this pest. The Federation is calling for the Department of Conservation to have direct oversight of Fish & Game’s management of this exotic species.
“The status quo is not an option, so Federated Farmers believes there is little point in entering into yet another management plan with Fish & Game after it put the original plan in the trash can. That’s a failure to meet its statutory obligation to manage this pest.
“In some areas, we do know of local Fish & Game officials who have made a conscientious effort to keep numbers down. The sad truth is that in other areas, it’s the complete reverse, which is unacceptable and displays a total disregard for the New Zealand environment,” Mr Aubrey concluded.