Protection status changes to Wildlife Act

  • Kate Wilkinson
Conservation

Whale sharks, katipo spiders and all giant weta will now be absolutely protected under changes to the Wildlife Act, Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson announced today.

They are among 12 previously unprotected species of invertebrate and a number of marine species, including manta ray, giant groper and corals, which have had their protection status upgraded.

"All native species are special and have evolved key functions in our unique biodiversity, whether they are weevils, weta or beetles they deserve an appropriate level of protection," Ms Wilkinson says.

"Giant groper, whale sharks and manta ray are all highly valued, particularly by divers, in New Zealand. The upgrade in their protection status, and that of corals, recognises how unique they are in our waters."

The changes to the Wildlife Act affect more than 50 species, including a number of introduced species that have had their protection levels reduced.

Permits will no longer be required to keep some common introduced species as pets, like spotted and turtle doves and ring-necked parakeet.

There will also be no need for permits to control some wildlife, such as wild chickens and muscovy ducks - both of which are farmed species but currently absolutely protected in the wild.

"I have been pragmatic about the changes given to some species and a reduction in protection will be the best way to manage some populations.

"For instance, the grey teal often flies with mallard ducks and is shot in error by hunters so I have dropped the penalty from a $100,000 fine to $5,000, which is the same as a fine for shooting game out of season."

The new changes will take effect on 8 July 2010.

A final decision is yet to be made on the level of protection for Canada geese.  

Background

Most species of wildlife (including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians), native or introduced, are absolutely protected under the Wildlife Act 1953. This is consistent with the objective that wildlife should generally be protected. Where a different level of protection is required (e.g. to facilitate limited harvest or manage adverse effects of wildlife), a species can be listed on one of schedules 1 to 6 of the Act. This means that the species is no longer absolutely protected but has a lower level of protection. This allows a range of different management activities to occur depending on which schedule the species is listed on (refer Table 1 for details).

The Wildlife Act also provides protection to a small number of terrestrial or freshwater invertebrates and marine species. These species need to be listed on Schedules 7 or 7A of the Wildlife Act in order to be protected (if not listed they are not protected).

Table 1.  Summary of protection provided by different Wildlife Act schedules

Not listed on any schedule (absolutely protected, except a number terrestrial or freshwater invertebrates and marine species): No-one may kill or have in their possession any such wildlife species, unless they have an appropriate authority.

Schedule 1 lists species declared to be "game." Such species are administered by Fish and Game Councils for the benefit of recreational hunters.

Schedule 2 lists species that are "partially protected." This means they can be hunted or killed if they are causing damage to land or property. Otherwise these species are protected.

Schedule 3 lists all wildlife which may be hunted, killed or held in possession subject to conditions specified by the Minister of Conservation by notification in the Gazette. This has been used, for example, to facilitate duck hunting seasons on the Chatham Islands and the taking of mutton birds on mutton bird islands.

Schedule 4 lists wildlife that is unprotected throughout New Zealand, except where the Minister of Conservation declares otherwise. This schedule currently has no species listed.

Schedule 5 lists wildlife that is not protected throughout New Zealand. It currently includes a number of mammals, birds and amphibians, including most farmed species. It is lawful for anyone to hunt, kill, or have in their possession any wildlife listed on this schedule.

Schedule 6 lists species that are not protected under the Wildlife Act and which are administered under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. (Adding species to or removing them from this schedule requires consequential amendments to the Wild Animal Control Act.)

Schedule 7 (absolutely protected) lists terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates protected under the Wildlife Act.

Schedule 7A (absolutely protected) lists marine species protected under the Wildlife Act.

Most native bird, bat, reptile and frog species are absolutely protected, and most common introduced bird and animal species are not protected. Some native and introduced bird species are partly protected to allow for limited harvest or control.

List of changes to protection status

Species

Old protection

Old situation

New protection

New situation

Birds

Spur-winged plover (Vanellus miles)

Absolutely protected

Species poses a major hazard to aviation - is responsible for 37% of bird strikes nationally (over 50% at 10 airports), costs aircraft operators hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, and jeopardises the safety of aircraft. Necessary management is prevented by current protection status.

Schedule 5

Will allow control under regional pest management strategies, and permits will no longer be required for control. Will improve aviation safety and reduce current costs to aircraft operators.

Brown skua (Sea hawk) (Catharacta lonnbergi)

Schedule 2

A native bird with a threat classification of ‘sparse'. Given its low impacts on landowners in most places, species should be fully protected in most areas.

Schedule 2
(on Chatham Islands only)

Will make species absolutely protected in most areas. Landowners on Chatham Islands will still be able to control birds if required.

Black shag (Phalacrocorax carbo)[1]

Schedule 2

Protection is too low for a native species that causes few impacts, but permits can be required when impacts do occur.

Schedule 3;
new Wildlife Notice

Will increase protection overall while reducing the need for permits by allowing fish and game councils to cull birds within 200m of trout and salmon hatchery ponds.

Harrier hawk (Circus approximans)[2]

Schedule 2

Land occupiers can cull birds that threaten livestock but a permit is required to cull birds impacting on threatened species.

Schedule 3;
new Wildlife Notice

Status quo except culling to assist recovery of threatened native species will no longer need a permit

Grey teal (Anas gracilis)

Absolutely protected

This non-threatened native duck often flies in close formation with mallard ducks and is shot in error by hunters. Penalty of up to $100,000 is excessive.

Schedule 3;
but keep fully protected

Moving to Schedule 3 will reduce penalty for shooting in error from $100,000 to $5000 (same penalty as for shooting game out of season), while allowing no harvesting as currently.

Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) (peacocks and peahens)

Schedule 3

Birds can affect neighbouring properties but regional councils cannot require landowners to control nuisance birds.

Schedule 5

Will allow control under regional pest management strategies.

Chicken (junglefowl) (any bird of the genus Gallus)

Absolutely protected

These are commonly farmed birds but permits are required to kill or capture from the wild. Fully protected status is inappropriate for farmed species.

Schedule 5

Permits will no longer be needed to cull or capture wild birds. This will reduce costs for local councils needing to manage wild birds.

Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata)

Absolutely protected

A farmed species but permits are required to kill or capture from the wild. Fully protected status is inappropriate for a farmed species.

Schedule 5

Permits will no longer be required to cull or capture wild birds.

Mute swan (Cygnus olor)

Absolutely protected

An introduced ornamental species. Permits are required to keep in captivity resulting in unnecessary processing costs.

Schedule 3;
new Wildlife Notice

Will allow species to remain fully protected in wild but the requirement for permits can be replaced by general conditions to eliminate permiting costs.[3]

All species of the genus Streptopelia (includes Barbary dove, spotted dove, ring-necked dove, turtle doves, collared doves and others)

Most are absolutely protected

Birds are kept for ornamental reasons but are free to fly at large. Permits are required to control or capture wild birds. Permits are also required to keep birds in captivity, although this is not enforced.

Schedule 5

Will allow control of wild birds where required, and bring people currently holding doves in captivity within the law. Two species of genus are known to live in wild; other species may also live in wild or may establish in the wild in the future. Genus has 18 species in total.

Crimson rosella (Platycercus elegans)

Absolutely protected

Introduced species living in wild. Permits are required to keep birds in captivity, although this is not enforced.

Schedule 5

Permits will no longer be needed to keep birds in captivity or to cull or capture wild birds. Will allow control under pest management strategies if needed.

Ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

Absolutely protected

Introduced species living in wild. Permits are required to keep birds in captivity, although this is not enforced.

Schedule 5

Permits will no longer be needed to keep birds in captivity or to cull or capture wild birds. Will allow control under pest management strategies if needed.

Chukar (Alectoris chukar)

Schedule 1

These species are currently listed on Schedule 1 for the whole country. This means they are fully protected on Chatham Islands because there is no Fish and Game Council for the Chathams to authorise hunting.

There may be a need to allow hunting of these species on the Chatham Islands in the future if other species currently hunted (weka) need to be removed from some areas to assist recovery of threatened indigenous species.

Schedule 1 (except on Chatham Islands)

Schedule 3 (on Chatham Islands only)

Status quo on New Zealand mainland. Schedule 3 listing for the Chatham Islands will allow hunting of these species on the Chatham Islands if required in the future, thereby assisting the recovery of threatened indigenous species.

Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa rufa)

Grey partridge (Perdix perdix)

Pheasant (any bird of the genus Phasianus and any hybrid)

Brown quail) (Coturnix ypsilophora)

California quail (Lophortyx californica)[4]

Bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus)

Frog

Southern bell frog (Litoria raniformis)

Absolutely protected

Species poses a disease risk to native frogs through releases of pets into the wild. Control under pest management strategies is not possible.

Schedule 5

Will allow control under regional pest management strategies (the most effective means of controlling spread). Permits will no longer be required to control wild frogs or to keep in captivity.

Reptiles

Rainbow skink (Lampropholis delicata)

Absolutely protected

Species poses a competition risk to native skinks through releases of pets into the wild. Management under pest management strategies is not possible.

Schedule 5

Will allow control under regional pest management strategies (the most effective means of controlling spread). Permits will no longer be required to control wild skinks or to keep skinks in captivity.

Red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans)

Absolutely protected

Species poses a risk to native ecosystems through releases of pets into the wild. Management under pest management strategies (desirable in Northland and Auckland) is not possible.

Schedule 5

Will allow control under regional pest management strategies (the most effective means of controlling spread). Permits will no longer be required to kill or capture wild turtles or keep turtles in captivity (not currently enforced).

Native invertebrates

Deinacrida-All species (giant weta)

Some Schedule 7, others not protected

All species in this genus are iconic, highly desired by collectors and most are endangered. Some are absolutely protected, others are unprotected.

Schedule 7

Will make all giant weta in this genus absolutely protected to prevent adverse impacts from collection by the general public and international invertebrate collectors. Most giant weta belong to this genus

Geodorcus-All species (a genus of large stag beetles)

Some Schedule 7, others not protected

Species in this genus are highly desired by collectors and most are endangered. Some are absolutely protected, others are unprotected.

Schedule 7

Will make all stag beetles in this genus absolutely protected to prevent adverse impacts from collection by international invertebrate collectors. Many large stag beetles are members of this genus

Paryphanta-All species (kauri snails)

Schedule 7

Both species in this genus are endangered, iconic, and highly desired by collectors. New species found will be unprotected.

Schedule 7

Change wording of listing to include any species in genus discovered in future. Any new species will be endangered, highly collectable, and need protection.

Motuweta isolata Johns 1997 (Mercury Islands tusked weta)

Not protected

Iconic, endangered, highly desired by collectors but currently not protected.

Schedule 7

Will make absolutely protected and prevent adverse impacts from collection by the general public and international invertebrate collectors.

Sigaus childi Jamieson 1999 (a dryland grasshopper)

Not protected

Endangered and not protected. Protection would assist conservation management by preventing disturbance.

Schedule 7

Will assist conservation management by preventing disturbance.

Mecodema laeviceps Broun 1904 (Ida Valley carabid beetle)

Not protected

Endangered and highly collectable but not protected.

Schedule 7

Will make species absolutely protected and prevent adverse impacts on population and habitat from collection by international invertebrate collectors.

Prodontria bicolorata Given 1964 (Alexandra chafer beetle)

Not protected

Endangered and not protected. Protection would assist conservation management by preventing disturbance.

Schedule 7

Will assist conservation management by preventing disturbance.

Anagotus stephenensis Kuschel 1982 (Stephens Island weevil)

Not protected

Endangered and highly collectable but not protected.

Schedule 7

Will make species absolutely protected and prevent adverse impacts on population and habitat from collection by international invertebrate collectors.

Lyperobius nesidiotes Kuschel 1987 (Broughton Island weevil)

Not protected

Endangered and highly collectable but not protected.

Schedule 7

Will make species absolutely protected and prevent adverse impacts on population and habitat from collection by international invertebrate collectors.

Latrodectus katipo Powell 1871 (red katipo spider)

Not protected

Iconic, vulnerable to harm, and in serous decline. Not protected and protection would assist conservation efforts.

Schedule 7

Will assist conservation efforts.

Note: This spider has a poisonous bite but adverse impacts on humans are almost unknown in recent decades. Protection will not impede insect and spider control in, under, and around buildings, etc, because this spider is not found in such places.

Latrodectus atritus Urquhart 1890 (black katipo spider)

Not protected

Iconic, vulnerable to harm, and in serous decline. Not protected and protection would assist conservation efforts.

Schedule 7

Will assist conservation efforts.

Note: This spider has a poisonous bite but adverse impacts on humans are almost unknown in recent decades. Protection will not impede insect and spider control in, under, and around buildings, etc, because this spider is not found in such places.

Rhytidarex buddlei (Powell 1948) (a large land snail)

Not protected

Iconic, endangered, highly desired by collectors but not protected.

Schedule 7

Will make absolutely protected and prevent adverse impacts from collection by the general public and international invertebrate collectors.

Marine species

Giant grouper (also known as Queensland grouper) (Epinephelus lanceolatus)

Not protected

Rare, valued by divers, and unable to sustain any harvest but not protected. Occasionally targeted by recreational spear fishers.

Schedule 7A

Will make species fully protected and spear fishing of this species will no longer be permitted.

Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)

Not protected

Rare, iconic, migrates internationally, valued overseas for ecotourism, and unable to sustain any harvest.

Schedule 7A

Will ensure this species is not subjected to disturbance or targeted fishing when in New Zealand waters.

Manta ray (Manta birostris)

Not protected

Iconic and unable to sustain high levels of catch owing to slow reproductive rate, but not protected.

Schedule 7A

Will ensure this species is not subjected to targeted fishing or unnecessary harm when in New Zealand waters.

Spinetail devil ray (also known as spinetail mobula) (Mobula japanica)

Not protected

Iconic and unable to sustain high levels of catch owing to slow reproductive rate, but not protected.

Schedule 7A

Will ensure this species is not subjected to targeted fishing or unnecessary harm when in New Zealand waters.

Deepwater nurse shark (Odontaspis ferox)

Not protected

Rare, unable to sustain any harvest, and vulnerable to deepwater line and net fisheries at aggregation sites.

Schedule 7A

Will ensure this species is not subjected to targeted recreational fishing or unnecessary harm when in New Zealand waters. The jaws of this species are sought after by collectors because of rarity.

Stony corals: all species in the Order Scleractinia

Not protected

Currently not protected. Some species occur within reach of divers and are vulnerable to collection impacts.

Reporting of unwanted coral bycatch is complex as some related species (e.g. black corals) are currently protected and others are not, and only experts can tell one species from another.

List on Schedule 7A and reduce detail required of fishers when reporting coral bycatch

Will make all corals fully protected and ensure collection impact problems do not develop.

Would reduce amount and complexity of reporting currently required of fishers when deepwater corals are caught as unwanted bycatch in trawl nets, and is expected to improve environmental monitoring.

Gorgonian corals: all species in the Order Gorgonacea

Not protected

Currently not protected. Reporting of unwanted coral bycatch is complex as some related species (e.g. black corals) are currently protected and others are not, and only experts can tell one species from another.

List on Schedule 7A and reduce detail required of fishers when reporting coral bycatch

Will reduce amount and complexity of reporting currently required of fishers when deepwater corals are caught as unwanted bycatch in trawl nets, and is expected to improve environmental monitoring.


[1] Wildlife Notice to be published setting out criteria and reporting requirements for culling.

[2] Wildlife Notice to be published setting out conditions under which birds may be disturbed or culled

[3] Wildlife Notice to be published setting out what landowners may do (e.g. keep in possession; pinion wings; clip wing feathers; move to other private land with that landowner's consent)

[4]