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By Don Farmer

THE New Zealand Fish and Game Council is keeping quiet on why a planned cull of hundreds of Canada geese at Lake Wairarapa did not go ahead at the weekend.

Blake Abernethy, the council's field officer with responsibility for Wairarapa, said "what didn't happen is not news," when asked why an apparent plan to herd the geese into pens and behead them was cancelled.

A spokesman for a hunting group opposed to the methods the wildlife staff wanted to employ said such was the depth of feeling that there were moves afoot to boycott buying game licenses this year.

Neil Hayes said the hunters understood the cull involved rounding up 400 Canada geese into pens at the edge of the lake "and chopping their heads off". The plan, he said, was "wildlife management by default" and for many hunters already disillusioned over the banning of lead shot for duck shooting was "the last straw".

"There is serious talk about a boycott on buying licenses," he said.

Mr Hayes said it was acknowledged that Canada geese were causing problems for farmers by eating crops and new grass but the correct way of dealing with this was to allow them to be shot.

"They are the world's most magnificent sporting game bird. They shouldn't be rounded up and then beaten over the head."

Mr Hayes said a similar type of "massacre" happened at Lake Ellesmere in the South Island about 30 years ago.

"There is absolutely no reason for this to happen nowadays, especially with the opening of a special goose season on Lake Wairarapa being only a couple of weeks away."

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