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Published: 2008-10-14 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s regional pest management strategy appeals hearing committee has confirmed that feral pigs and deer will not be called "pests", but that they will still be controlled if found to be damaging important ecological areas.

The move – agreed to at a committee meeting yesterday - followed negotiations between EW staff and the Tokoroa Pig Hunting Club (TPHC), which had strenuously objected to feral pigs and deer being called "pests" in the proposed Regional Pest Management Strategy (RPMS) .

Now that an agreement to drop the pest label had been reached, an Environment Court hearing on the TPHC appeal will not need to go ahead.

The change means feral pigs and deer in the Waikato will not be labelled "pests" under the Biosecurity Act, and that any necessary control of them to protect biodiversity will be carried out under the Wild Animal Control Act (WACA).

Cr Laurie Burdett, chair of the RPMS hearings committee, said that with landowners’ permission private hunters or clubs could be requested to carry out control if pigs or deer were threatening important ecological areas.

"Under the settlement agreement, EW can still directly manage feral pigs and deer if necessary, but it will be done through the WACA."

Cr Burdett said the settlement acknowledges that even though pigs and deer are a valuable resource to many people they can cause damage and may need to be controlled in certain circumstances. The settlement also notes that the success of the WACA in managing pigs and deer will be evaluated over the coming three years, in time for the next scheduled RPMS review.

Cr Burdett predicted that hunters and the council will collaborate successfully if control is necessary in certain locations. She noted that a collaborative effort is already going on south of Te Kuiti, where pigs have been causing problems for farmers.

Cr Burdett said she hoped there would be ongoing collaboration in the fight to stem the loss of New Zealand’s biodiversity.

"At the moment, we’re not winning," Cr Burdett said.