Canada goose has transferred from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Act. This means the species is “not protected”, allowing anyone to hunt or kill geese at any time of year.

Canada goose has been moved from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 of the Wildlife Act. This means the species is no longer managed by fish and game councils but is now “not protected” (note this does not mean “pest”).

Anyone can hunt or kill geese at any time of year without a need for a game licence. Permits are no longer required to control geese on private land. Hunters wanting to hunt geese on conservation land still need to obtain a hunting permit but no longer need a game licence. Find out about hunting permits.

There is also no longer a need to comply with other game hunting regulations when hunting or killing geese – such as having to shoot the birds with a shotgun while the bird is in flight. Geese can be killed by any humane means, including when they are flightless during their annual moult. The use of poison is not allowed as there is no poison registered for use in goose control.

Canada geese now have the same protection status as many other introduced bird species such as rock pigeons, magpies, and wild turkeys.

The change in status took effect from 9 June 2011 when the species formally transferred from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5. 

Background on change in status

The change to the protection status of Canada goose is aimed primarily at addressing unacceptable and increasing goose impacts on farm pasture and crops. A summary of the situation around the country is as follows:  

  • goose impacts are reported to be increasing in Waikato and Northland
  • goose numbers and impacts are increasing in Manawatu, Kapiti Coast, Wairarapa, Otago and Southland
  • goose numbers are steady in Canterbury but impacts are increasing as land use intensifies.

There are also concerns about the risk this large bird species pose to aircraft.

Future goose management

In the immediate future, much of the burden of goose control will pass to the farming community. Recreational goose hunting will continue, as anyone will be able to hunt geese without a need for a game licence.

In some parts of the country, no major changes will be required. Landowners and others requiring geese to be controlled have the option of undertaking control themselves or liaising with local recreational hunters interested in goose hunting opportunities. Goose hunters may likewise choose to liaise with local farmers in order to gain access to hunting opportunities.

In places where local control and recreational hunting is unable to meet landowner or aviation safety needs, farmer groups and aviation interests can seek to have Canada goose management incorporated into their regions’ regional pest management strategies as the strategies come up for revision and renewal.

In some areas, such as Canterbury and perhaps the Wairarapa, coordinated arrangements for goose control will be needed. DOC understands that farmer groups in these places are already considering the approaches they will use to manage geese.

DOC will monitor the arrangements developed by the farming community with other groups interested in geese (including recreational hunting groups, local councils, and airport companies), with a particular interest in aviation safety matters. Should any significant “problematic” issues arise, DOC will bring these to the attention of the Minister of Conservation.

A potential future need for regulations to ensure efficient goose management has already been signalled to the Government. These might include a need for restrictions on the use of aircraft to control geese (which the birds can learn to avoid), or a ban on the use of lead shot when shooting geese over waterways (with possible exceptions for certain areas such as Molesworth). DOC will monitor the need or otherwise for regulations, in consultation with the various interest groups, as the situations in different areas unfold. Ministers will be able to direct management policy if required, something they couldn't do under the old regime.

Period of change

The will be a period of adjustment while the various parties with an interest in Canada goose management get used to the new arrangements.

DOC will have a role in monitoring the satisfaction of affected parties. MAF and the Ministry of Transport may choose to monitor the satisfaction of their interest groups also.

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