Maitai Valley, where part of the pest operation took place earlier this year. Photo: Supplied.

Council cull riles hunters

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Local hunters are reeling after an out-of-town company was paid more than $20,000 to cull feral goats, deer and pigs – a job they say they could have done for free.

Nelson City Council contracted Southland-based pest control company Trap and Trigger to carry out the pest eradication last month.

The operation, which was conducted in the Maitai and Roding River catchments, was to restore forest health in an area that is home to one of Nelson’s largest intact forest ecosystems.

Trap and Trigger covered 4700-hectares with a helicopter and killed 136 goats, 41 deer and four pigs at a cost of $22,000 to Nelson ratepayers.

The work will continue over a three-year period as an annual operation and will expand to cover 7200 hectares.

However, the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association’s (NZDA) Nelson branch is disappointed that the perceived problem was not brought to their attention before the out of town tender was awarded.

NZDA Nelson club secretary Warren Plum says they have since written to council requesting a meeting to discuss any further culling operations.

“Perhaps we can negate the need for rate payers’ funds being spent on something we could help with at no cost.”

He says a number of their members would welcome the opportunity to recreationally hunt in this area which is “so close to home”.

“Access has been an issue and it’s hoped that if the parties got together, perhaps some sort of mutually beneficial managed hunting, to help control animals in the future could be arranged.”

Council group manager environmental management Clare Barton says Track and Trigger were awarded a three-year contract through their normal tender processes.

“It’s part of an ongoing control programme to reduce the impacts of pest animals on forest regeneration.”

Maitai Valley resident and recreational hunter Barry McLeod says the operation won’t fix the problem.

“The whole area’s surrounded by goats, they’re just going to keep coming back.”
He estimates he has shot between 40 and 50 goats in the Maitai area over the past year “for free”.

A Trap and Trigger spokesperson says that limited access to hunters is not the only reason they were called in and believes the operation was a success.

“The reality is, the site has special values and we would be called in to do the work regardless of recreational hunter access or caretaker efforts.”

“The reserve is under serious threat from invasive species, the results from ongoing efforts will prove our work. We go out there to look after the environment.”