Let’s spare Canada geese

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION - By SAAR CO­HEN-RO­NEN

I op­pose For­est and Bird’s plan to kill the geese of Lanes Flat.

Lanes Flat is an open field on the Whitby side of the Pau­ata­hanui round­about, and is owned by NZ Trans­port Agency for the Trans­mis­sion Gully project.

Over the past two years, Lanes Flat has be­come a refuge for a small group of Canada geese that were ban­ished from the Pau­ata­hanui Re­serve by For­est and Bird.

It is not part of the re­serve and is not an area where For­est and Bird has any le­gal man­date to op­er­ate.

When work on Trans­mis­sion Gully be­gins next year, Lanes Flat will be­come one big con­struc­tion site and the geese will have to fly to a safer place any­way.

For­est and Bird ap­proached NZ Trans­port Agency ear­lier this year and asked for per­mis­sion to kill the geese. This was done with­out pub­lic dis­cus­sion and us­ing what I feel was mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion.

Un­til re­cently, Canada geese have been legally pro­tected in New Zealand.

By the 1930s, they had died out in the North Is­land. They re­turned in the 1970s and be­came a pro­tected game bird (the same sta­tus as the pukeko to­day), sub­ject to hunt­ing per­mits dur­ing open sea­son.

Canada geese are graz­ers and have a clear pref­er­ence for ten­der mowed grass. That quickly at­tracted the wrath of farm­ers, who claimed the geese were com­pet­ing with live­stock for pas­ture.

In 2011, the Min­is­ter of Con­ser­va­tion sup­ported the farm­ers’ po­si­tion and moved Canada geese to the ‘‘un­pro­tected’’ cat­e­gory (Sched­ule 5 of the Wildlife Act).

That sta­tus meant the geese were the prop­erty of the landowner on whose land they live.

Many farm­ers were quick to ex­er­cise their le­gal right and sev­eral mass killings of Canada geese have been re­ported in farm­lands since 2011.

The three pairs of geese at the re­serve and 70 or so geese at Lanes Flat are a far cry from the tens of thou­sands in the South Is­land or at Lake Wairarapa.

Nev­er­the­less, a For­est and Bird re­port states the or­gan­i­sa­tion has been shoot­ing geese at the Pau­ata­hanui Re­serve and shak­ing their eggs, to dis­cour­age the rest from set­tling at the re­serve.

Most geese have left the re­serve and moved to Lanes Flat, but For­est and Bird still wants to kill the geese at their place of refuge, which sug­gests that de­spite us­ing eu­phemisms such as ‘‘re­moval’’, ‘‘con­trol’’ and ‘‘man­age­ment’’, what it re­ally wants is to erad­i­cate the group.

For­est and Bird plans to kill the geese in Jan­uary, when they will be flight­less dur­ing the moult­ing sea­son and at­tend­ing to their goslings.

The geese will de­fend their young, and with­out the abil­ity to fly they will have to fight for their lives, which is likely to re­sult in a par­tic­u­larly cruel out­come.

The ar­gu­ments For­est and Bird raises raise to jus­tify the killing are un­sus­tain­able.

First, al­though un­pro­tected, Canada geese have never been de­clared a pest by our re­gional coun­cil.

The coun­cil did not even sup­port the farm­ers’ cam­paign to change the geese’s sta­tus to ‘‘un­pro­tected’’, but sought a more mod­er­ate so­lu­tion.

Sec­ond, blam­ing the geese for foul­ing the har­bour is a cyn­i­cal at­tempt to ig­nore the 2012 Ac­tion Plan’s find­ing that the main sources of fae­cal in­puts to Porirua Har­bour were sewerage and stormwa­ter in­fra­struc­ture.

Third, the ac­cu­sa­tions about the geese’s be­hav­iour are not sup­ported by sci­en­tific ev­i­dence. They are not rats, possums or stoats.

Un­like the many ducks that bois­ter­ously fight in ter­ri­to­rial feuds, the geese keep to them­selves and re­act only to in­vaders (hu­mans or an­i­mals) who threaten the safety of their goslings or eggs.

And fourth, most of the time the geese feed on grass at Lanes Flat and not on the fringe of the tidal area.

Even when they do, what is wrong with that? Tidal plants can be re­planted or re­placed. Lives and wildlife can­not.

Even if any of For­est and Bird’s ar­gu­ments held wa­ter, the ease with which it re­sorts to killing an­i­mals is dis­con­cert­ing, es­pe­cially when con­sid­er­ing it is an or­gan­i­sa­tion en­trusted with look­ing af­ter our birds.

The dis­re­gard for life and the pref­er­ence for death over non- vi­o­lent al­ter­na­tives (scar­ing tech­niques, re­plant­ing) puts this or­gan­i­sa­tion of well-mean­ing in­di­vid­u­als on the wrong side of the wildlife fence.

To me and my friends who live in the area, the geese are an in­te­gral part of the in­let and con­trib­ute to its bio­di­ver­sity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.