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New Zealand’s ‘Game Animal Council’ – putting hunting before conservation?

24/10/2011 04:27:19

‘Instead of managing pests, they are managing hunting'

October 2011: New Zealand's plans to establish a Game Animal Council is not common sense and will undermine conservation, Forest & Bird have warned.

The legislation, introduced to Parliament earlier this month, will see the responsibility for managing some herds of pest animals - including deer, thar, chamois and wild pigs - on public conservation land transferred from the Department of Conservation to the new council, to improve hunting opportunities for those animals.

The establishment of the council is part of a deal done between the government and Peter Dunne's United Future Party to ensure his support for the government.

'This will lead to confusion and conservation will suffer'
Forest & Bird conservation advocate Claire Browning said that conservation would be undermined by transferring DOC functions to the new council, which would manage the herds for different purposes. Instead of managing these animals as pest species, they will now be managed for hunting and this would be in direct conflict with DOC's activities in national parks or other public conservation lands.

The Game Animal Council will also have a vested interest in sustaining these pest animal populations to sustain its funding, which comes from export trophy levies. DOC told Cabinet in its regulatory impact statement that the council was a bad idea. It was the highest cost option, in what are supposed to be tough times, and would complicate the management of pest animals.

For the same reasons, the New Zealand Conservation Authority and the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment also did not support it.

‘DOC is clearly best placed to manage pests on our conservation land. It is the only organisation that can ensure that conservation remains the top priority,' Claire Browning said. ‘Having two different organisations administering different pests on the same land will lead to confusion and conservation will suffer.'

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