Almost two thousand feral goats have been culled and left to rot in the south-west of Wellington city to protect the environment.
Wellington City Council said it had shot a total of 1800 goats over the past year in the Makara-Ohariu area, towards the west coast.
The council said it was necessary to increase the region's biodiversity and help replenish the native habitat.
Community Engagement and Reserves Manager Amber Bill described goats as "a major pest".
"We are trying to protect biodiversity values in that area, which means we need to control the number of goats," she said.
The aim was to try and restore the indigenous forest which was cleared and farmed, according to the Feral Goat Eradication for South West Wellington - External Funding report.
Trees such as tawa, rimu and northern rata were destroyed by the activity, with large areas reverting to scrub.
The report stated: "The areas of scrub will, in time, become native forest".
Local landowners had been supportive of the idea as there had been a shift in recent years from traditional livestock farming to carbon farming, which aimed to produce carbon credits through vegetation growth.
The council had hired professional hunters to perform an "on ground-based hunt" in an area broken into three core management blocks, sweeping from east to west.
Bill said the dead goats were left where they are shot and are not moved unless they have fallen into a river or onto a public track.
"It is written in the contract [with the hunters] to leave them there," she said.
"There are time constraints and concerns around health requirements about the recovery of the goats."
Health and safety issues regarding the removal of dead goats, along with time constraints, means the professional hunters must leave the bodies where they are shot.
Te Aro retail manager Ivana Boese said leaving dead animals to rot was wrong and "very gross".
Christian Olliff from Paekakariki said culling was sometimes necessary, but added there was a "sense of brutality" about leaving the goats to rot.
Chief Inspector Ritchie Dawson of Wellington SPCA agreed with the council that shooting was a "humane method of euthanasia".
"Provided it is carried out by experienced operators who know what they are doing," he said.
However, Dawson added a word of caution regarding the offspring left behind:
"Extreme care must be taken by the hunters to ensure young kids are not left to starve because the nanny has been destroyed."
The Department of Conservation website stated goats inhabited 14 per cent of New Zealand.
The council's three year plan to eradicate feral goats was through the first stage and currently under review.
The Wellington Environmental Health Officer was unavailable for comment on the issue.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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