Waikato District Council is rethinking how to get rid of up to180 Canada geese at Huntly's Lake Hakanoa after flaws were pointed out in its initial plan to hand-feed the birds poison bait.
The council wants to cull the lake's resident geese because of their destruction of sports fields and the risk they pose to human health.
The lake is next to Huntly Domain's sports fields and the geese are eating their way through the grass on the domain, the home base of Huntly Thistle Football Club.
The council says a single goose can eat about 1kg of grass a day, roots and all, while producing up to 1kg of faeces a day.
As well as introducing weeds to the sports fields, that amount of faeces on the fields poses health risks to users of those fields.
The council says it had tried various control methods over the years, with limited success. Shooting the geese was considered but would not be effective, especially at this time of year when geese are flighty.
On Tuesday morning, the council issued a statement saying the only option available was baiting, which involves hand-feeding the geese for several days. The food would then be mixed with poison bait and fed to the geese.
The bait takes a maximum of half an hour to take effect, during this time the contractor remains on site to monitor the birds, tracking any affected birds that move outside the control area, the council statement said.
The contractor then immediately collects the dead birds for disposal. They undertake a second collection the next day to ensure no dead birds remain.
By Tuesday afternoon the council had changed its mind, issuing a second statement saying the control method recommended by contractors was to bait the geese with a narcotic substance.
"However subsequent information received from Waikato Regional Council and Fish and Game today has indicated that the method is not suitable due to the size of the geese," the council says. The average weight of a Canada goose is about 5kg, with adult males up to 6.5kg.
The bait puts birds to sleep within half an hour and they are subsequently humanely destroyed.
"But it has been pointed out that the product would not be effective on a bird the size of a Canada goose."
The poison would take longer than half an hour to take effect, meaning the geese could disperse to other areas before the product would take effect.
"So, council has decided not to go ahead with this method," the Tuesday afternoon announcement said.
Council is now investigating other methods to control the goose population.
"It is unfortunate we have received conflicting information on this method. However, we still need to control the geese population at Lake Hakanoa and once an appropriate solution has been found we will be letting our community know our reworked plan," says community connections manager Megan May.
"There have been suggestions that relocation of the Canada geese could be a control method. But we feel that this would just transfer the problem elsewhere, and due to the migratory nature of Canada geese they will likely return to the same spot."
SAFE campaigns manager Jessica Chambers said earlier that culling the geese was a short-sighted approach and the council should instead be looking at relocating and rehoming.
"Culling these birds will simply make space for more geese to take their place, creating an annual cycle of more killing.
"Local councils should be creating population management plans to ensure mass cullings don't become the only option they're willing to consider."