Wild animal control plans are necessary in New Zealand to protect native forest and species from introduced wild animals.
Why introduced wild animals are a problem
Tahr: an introduced wild animal
Browsing and grazing by introduced wild animals such as possums, goats, tahr, pigs and deer severely impact on large areas of native forest. They also threaten several of our native flowering plants.
If left unchecked, introduced animals will continue to degrade our forests, causing a continuing decline in biodiversity. In those areas where browsing animals stop regeneration, the result will be the complete collapse of the forest canopy.
Department of Conservation's role
The main function of the Department of Conservation (DOC) is to protect New Zealand's unique native plant and animal communities. Much of this work focuses on the control of introduced animals.
Section 5 of the Wild Animal Control Act 1977 gives DOC the authority to prepare wild animal control plans. Where control work has been carried out under these plans the results have been extremely successful.
What the plans contain
Wild animal control plans outline the problems caused by introduced animals, state DOC's policies and sets objectives for controlling them. They identify native species most threatened by introduced animals. DOC then decides on the best method of animal control. Operational and performance measures check these animal control operations are effective.
Some groups agree that wild animals are significant conservation pests, while others see wild animals such as deer, pigs and goats as an important recreational hunting and commercial resource. Wild animal control plans are developed in consultation with user groups and stakeholders. DOC aims to involve interest groups during the preparation of plans to avoid future conflict while achieving conservation objectives.
Other organisations are also involved in control of wild animal pests. TB Free New Zealand controls possums and feral deer to prevent the spread of tuberculosis to cattle. Regional councils and community groups control possums to enhance agricultural production. DOC is always looking for opportunities to co-ordinate control and research with its partners.
Pest Detective website: an interactive field guide to help you identify the presence of animal pests in New Zealand.
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