Wild goats in the Wanganui backblocks are a headache for both forestry and walkers of the Waitahinga Trails, Ian Moore says.
He manages 200ha of pine forest at Waitahinga, 30km from Wanganui, on 700ha of Wanganui District Council-owned land where trails have been opened up for walkers. Goats are spoiling the look of the vegetation for walkers, and also devastating young forestry plantings.
At nearby Tokomaru East goats had to be shot from a helicopter to give young forestry trees a chance to survive, Mr Moore said.
He thinks goats should be targeted as pest animals by Horizons Regional Council.
He likes seeing walkers in the reserve, but said it was primarily a working forest with adjoining quarry and keeping the goats down to preserve vegetation was very difficult.
The reserve is usually closed to walkers during June, July and August, so shooters can cull goats. This year it was only closed in July and August, and Mr Moore said that was not long enough.
"I was up there yesterday and I shot at least 12 goats. I would have shot over 300 goats there this year."
When goats are successfully controlled the vegetations rebounds and becomes a magnet for the many uncontrolled wild goats on surrounding properties.
"It's fruit salad for all the goats in the surrounding area."
There's another difficult aspect to combining wild goats with walking trails, he said.
If people use the trails while they are closed for goat control, they risk being shot. In one incident, a family was walking while a hunter was looking for goats.
"Kids chattering sound very much like young goats. It's lucky he was a good hunter. If you had some person in there that wasn't a safe hunter you're actually putting people at risk."
Mr Moore said goat carcasses left behind by hunters also attracted wild pigs. The pigs attracted poaching hunters, who could also pose a risk to walkers.