2000 birds culled to protect planes and farms

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 15:00 15/01/2014
Geese
AERIAL PEST: Flocks of Canada geese descend on farms and damage crops and pasture.
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Is a mass cull the best way to deal with Canada geese on Lake Ellesmere?

Yes, they're pests

No, there should be another way

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About 2000 Canada geese have been killed to prevent birdstrike to planes and damage to farm land.

Christchurch International Airport Limited (CIAL) and Federated Farmers held a Canada goose cull at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere this month.

Christchurch Airport strategy and sustainability general manager Rhys Boswell said the geese were a "significant threat" to agricultural productivity throughout the South Island and aviation safety.

He said significant numbers of geese were seen flying across airport flight paths last month, which was dangerous for planes, and ultimately could bring one down.

The cull was supervised by an independent project manager appointed by the airport, with the work carried out by members of Federated Farmers.

Canada geese have been a problem in New Zealand for many years, eating pasture and crops, fouling waterways and paddocks and posing a hazard to planes.

The introduced birds were reclassified in 2011 as a pest after having limited protection as a hunting resource.
During the birds' moult, usually in January, they are unable to fly and congregate on waterways.

This month's operation used techniques developed by Fish and Game New Zealand and involved birds being herded by boat and aircraft onto private land, to be killed using humane and methods approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Boswell said the birds were disposed of well away from the lake, under a consent issued by Environment Canterbury.

The cull was undertaken after consultation with the Department of Conservation, ECan, Christchurch City Council and the Te Waihora Management Board.

The board gave permission for boats to be used over the lake bed, but requested that ground-based herding and culling took place on private land.

A MPI spokesman said it had been providing advice to CIAL and Federated Farmers for a number of years to assist in developing a co-ordinated approach toward the Canada goose cull.

"MPI is aware that the group carrying out the Canada goose cull have been proactive in ensuring their methods meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act."

Under Animal Welfare Act 1999 it is an offence to kill a captured animal in such a manner that the animal suffers unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress. It is also an offence to wilfully or recklessly ill-treat a wild animal.

"MPI expects all people carrying out pest management activities to fully comply with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act. The onus is on those carrying out the control to ensure they meet the act requirements."

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