Forest and Bird take aim at DOC over wild animals plan

Source: 1News

Forest and Bird have taken aim at a Department of Conservation plan to manage introduced wild animals like deer and pigs.

It says the strategy doesn’t focus on protecting native forests, but the department maintains it’s got the balance right.

Forest and Bird says the number of wild animals on conservation land is out of control and overflowing onto farms, private land and Forest and Bird’s own reserves.

It’s concerned the new strategy does nothing to address the problem.

"The pendulum has swung way too far for protection of animals that are causing havoc out there," chief executive Nic Toki said.

"We think the Department of conservation has gone completely out of their lane we've got a plan for wild animal management which talks about the goal being improving the quality of the animals hunted."

The DOC plan is called Te Ara Ki Mua and spokesperson Ben Reddiex says it covers deer, goats, tahr, chamois and pigs.

"It really guides the collaborative efforted needed to reduce browsing pressure where necessary to enhance biodiversity."

DOC acknowledges the number of deer and goats is growing in many places.

It says considerable work to manage them is already underway and recent government investment will enable efforts to be scaled up.

"We're optimistic that balanced outcomes can be developed that consider ecological, cultural economic and recreational values that are held about these animals and their management," said Reddiex.

And the New Zealand Game Animal Council is on board.

General manager Tim Gale say they believe it provides a balanced framework.

"It's balancing conservation interests with hunting interests you know we want healthy animals in a very healthy environment and that's what this is pushing for."

But Forest and Bird says mass culling should be considered.

"One of our reserves down in Southland we've had to hire full time contractor and part of their role is about keeping the deer out of that reserve which is coming in from the public conservation land adjacent," Toki said.