Farming lobby denies organising geese cull

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013

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Federated Farmers is distancing itself from last year's bloody Lake Ellesmere cull in which canada geese were bludgeoned to death with clubs and baseball bats.

Rotting carcasses were left floating in the lake after the controversial cull, raising fears of waterway pollution.

Federated Farmers high-country regional policy adviser Bob Douglas said this week that the organisation was not planning further culls of the pest bird.

Instead, it was working with people badly affected by the geese on their land to find a better solution.

Last January's cull was investigated by Environment Canterbury (ECan).

It found no regulations had been breached and that best practice for killing the geese had "essentially" been followed, despite "evidence of dead and decomposing" carcasses.

The Department of Conservation has issued two permits for canada geese culls on conservation land this summer. The first was for a cull on January 16 around lakes Emma, Heron, Maori, Coleridge and Clearwater, and the headwaters of the Rakaia and Rangitata rivers, carried out by local farmers. A permit has also been issued for an organised goose hunt by recreational hunters in the St James Conservation Area from March 1 to 4.

Canada geese have been a problem in New Zealand for many years, eating pasture and crops, fouling waterways and paddocks with up to a kilogram of droppings per adult bird each day, and being a hazard to civil aviation.

The introduced birds were reclassified in 2011 as a pest after having limited protection as a hunting resource.

Who ran the Lake Ellesmere cull seems to be a bone of contention.

Douglas told The Press the public and media had got the wrong end of the stick about the cull.

"We didn't do a cull last year. Federated Farmers has never organised a geese cull," he said. "The culls run last year were by a group that we assisted. It was a one-off. There were some Federated Farmers members involved.

"I don't organise rabbit hunts or wallaby hunts. Federated Farmers will not be planning culls; members as individuals and collectively could be."

He said he had never heard the outcome of the ECan investigation.

ECan director of resource management Kim Drummond said that while the council had found evidence of rotting carcasses around Lake Ellesmere, it also found a much larger number of animals were killed and appropriately disposed of.

"Environment Canterbury has since pulled the various parties together and worked through options for future control. The timing is such that they were not able to take the opportunity of a moult cull this year because the group did not want to rush things," he said.

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- The Press

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