Moult culls destroy 18,000 canada geese

FLEUR COGLE
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2012

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Up to 18,000 canada geese have been destroyed in a series of moult culls across the central South Island.

In the most recent cull, on Thursday, about 1500 birds at Wainono Lagoon were killed, Federated Farmers High Country farmer Simon Williamson said.

Before June, when the birds lost their protected status, Fish and Game had managed population numbers.

The birds are considered a pest because they eat pasture and crops and foul paddocks and waterways.

Moult culls, using several methods, had been conducted at Ohau, Pukaki, Tekapo and Ellesmere, with more planned for the area this month, Mr Williamson said. A follow-up cull in April could be conducted if necessary, he said.

During the birds' moult they are unable to fly and shelter on bodies of water. Culling methods depended on the location, Mr Williamson said.

A helicopter and shooters were used at Wainono, he said.

Federated Farmers South Canterbury president William Rolleston said a government grant of $100,000 was made as a one-off payment to set up the cull programme throughout New Zealand.

The grant has been jointly paid by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, attracting criticism from conservation groups which said half the "subsidy" had come from DOC at a time of job cuts.

DOC programme biodiversity manager Kennedy Lange said DOC's role was to provide the relevant authority for Federated Farmers to undertake the culls on public conservation land. The authority included a range of conditions to ensure public safety, animal welfare and legislative criteria were met, Mr Lange said.

Culls on DOC land would be taking place in the Upper Rangitata, Upper Rakaia and Ashburton Lakes basin over the next couple of weeks, he said.

Central South Island Fish and Game officer Mark Webb said local Fish and Game had not been told about the Wainono cull, but had heard about it.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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