Swan kill under fire after 200 shot

By Jamie Morton

An animal advocacy group is calling on Bay of Plenty residents to put an end to annual black swan shoots on Tauranga Harbour after more than 200 were killed yesterday.

Dozens of the birds could be seen piled on top of one another at a Katikati boat ramp yesterday after 217 were shot over several hours.

The hunt was defended by Fish and Game, which says it sees no other way to keep the harbour's swan population down so the birds do not have a "detrimental effect" on natural resources or harbour users.

But Hans Kriek, the director of animal rights group Safe, questioned the need for it.

"You've really got to wonder what the issue is here. Is this a cull for environmental reasons, or is it a bunch of duckshooters going out for a bit of a thrill kill - because they seemed to have tried to combine the issues.

"Normally speaking, when it's an issue of pest control it will be done by government agencies and they will do it in a professional manner - what you are seeing here is a lot of amateur shooters herding up animals, frightening them and then shooting them."

Mr Kriek could not see the point in killing a few hundred out of a couple of thousand swans.

"It's not going to make too much of a difference. And the fact is that our waterways are threatened much more by dairy runoff than by those swans."

He said it would be good for people to put pressure on the council and local Fish and Game representatives to stop the event. Brian Samson, vice-president of Western Bay of Plenty Fish and Game Club, said the shoot had traditionally been kept low-key.

"We go out as a bunch of like-minded individuals having a great day. We enjoy being successful and a job well done, but anybody who enjoys killing for the sake of killing has no place in our organisation."

Black swans have been the subject of regular complaints for leaving faeces on beaches and mud flats, posing aviation hazards at Tauranga Airport and threatening seagrass meadows through consumption.

Fish and Game had a responsibility to keep populations to a "manageable size", manager Rob Pitkethley said.

"This group of hunters operates within all the rules and regulations, and they are expected to adhere to our game-bird hunting code of conduct," he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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