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Hunters setting sights on wild goats

Department of Conservation [DOC] and the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association [NZDA] have teamed up to hold a national wild goat hunting competition.

The contest – which started on August 1 and runs until November 26 – is open to hunters across the country, as long as they have permission from the landowner or local authority as well as a firearms licence.

DOC National Programmes Director Ben Reddiex said increased hunter efforts will reduce the damage wild goats can cause to native plants, and alpine and forest ecosystems.

“High densities of wild goats cause significant damage to New Zealand’s native plants and habitats,” he said.

“They are becoming widespread, with significant numbers in some places.”

Wild goats cause two-fold damage – threatening native plants, and trampling vegetation and compactable soils, a DOC spokesperson said.

It’s unknown how many wild goats there are, but they roam across 15 per cent of New Zealand, according to DOC.

Last year, DOC forked out $5 million to cull goats, a sum the agency said could double every two years if goat numbers aren’t brought under control.

“This is something we think recreational hunters will enjoy supporting because hunters spend a lot of time in New Zealand’s remote areas and are passionate about conservation. Many contribute to maintaining trap lines to protect our native species like whio and kea,” NZDA National Vice President Callum Sheridan said.

Those who choose to participate will have the opportunity to enter the tails of the goats they shoot, with $50,000 in spot prizes donated by the hunting and outdoor sector up for grabs.

Deerstalkers Association chief executive Gwyn Thurlow said the competition’s a “win-win” for hunting and conservation.

“We get a hunting opportunity, we get to raise awareness, and we get a competition with some great prizes. And DOC gets to mobilise the hunting workforce that are out there hunting,” she said.

For more information on how to enter the competition, visit www.doc.govt.nz/wild-goat-hunting-competition.

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