Canada geese protection status changed

  • Kate Wilkinson

The protection status of Canada geese as a game bird will be changed to allow farmers, park owners and aviation managers to cull these birds themselves, Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson announced today.

Canada geese will be removed from Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act 1953 and listed on Schedule 5. This means that Fish and Game will no longer manage the geese as a hunting resource. A permit will not be required to shoot them.

“As the population of Canada geese continues to increase so does their risk to aviation safety and the damage they inflict to pasture and crops,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“The current status where the geese populations are managed as a game bird is not working.

“Farmers have been getting increasingly frustrated with these birds fouling pasture and damaging crops.

“They also pose an aviation hazard due to their large size and this change will allow for the birds to be more effectively controlled where they pose a risk to aircraft safety.”

Ms Wilkinson says there are tens of thousands of Canada geese across the country and recreational hunting opportunities will remain.

“I expect Fish and Game to continue to work with landowners to assist with managing populations around the country.

“The geese are well established and on top of that farmers will have an incentive to provide hunting access to reduce their goose control costs.”



  • The Canada goose is an introduced game bird managed by fish and game councils for the benefit of recreational game licence holders.
  • Species listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act are declared to be game. This means the populations are managed by local fish and game councils for recreational hunting purposes.
  • Species on Schedule 5 are not protected.
  • Farmers, urban park managers and those responsible for aviation safety advise that current Canada geese management is not adequately meeting their needs.
  • In 1995 the South Island Canada Goose Management Plan was agreed that set the maximum population number at 20,350. The population has remained well above that level and in 2008 was estimated to be 35,000.
  • Fish and game councils are independent. Under the current regime, farmers, park managers, the aviation sector, and the Government have no direct input to goose management.
  • Individual landowners can suffer thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of damage to pasture and crops from geese in a single year.
  • Four to five geese will consume the equivalent amount of grass that a sheep does and this impact is further compounded by associated fouling.