Peninsula wild goat cull successful

Last updated 05:00 27/01/2014

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Feral goats may soon be wiped from Banks Peninsula after an intensive decade-long hunting programme.

About 5000 feral goats have been killed in the past decade at a cost of about $300,000, with conservative estimates suggesting about 500 remain.

Feral goats, defined as those that are untagged and not kept behind a goat-proof fence, are a major threat to native and endemic plants, destroying both flora and fauna biodiversity.

Farmers also consider them a pest because they eat farmland pasture, damage fences and can spread animal health problems, such as footrot and lice.

The eradication programme is run by Environment Canterbury (ECan), the Department of Conservation (DOC), Christchurch City Council and the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust.

ECan biosecurity team leader Brent Glentworth said the programme stemmed from public concern at feral goat damage to bush reserves and native plantings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coupled with the collapse of the goat industry making them virtually worthless to farmers overnight.

"We estimate there are less than 500 left. We are pretty sure it's nearer 200, but we can never be too sure," he said.

The goats, which thrive on the peninsula as rocky outcrops provide plenty of cover, breed year-round in the wild and often give birth to twins and sometimes triplets.

The remaining animals on private land posed a "significant threat" to the efforts in the programme so far, Glentworth said.

"Normal fences present no barrier to feral goats, and re-infestation of previously cleaned-out areas creates a huge amount of extra work and cost."

He hoped by 2016 feral goats would be gone from the peninsula.

The goats were often shot then left where they were, or a farmer took the carcass or sometimes they were sold to abattoirs.

Glentworth said some landowners mistakenly thought goats were effective for weed control, but the goats ate more palatable plants first.

In areas where feral goats has been killed, the native bush was regenerating.

Robin Smith, of DOC, stressed domestic goats were fine to have as long as they were securely fenced in.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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