The ABC are reporting today on agricultural and social challenges with overabundant wild Cape Barren Geese on Phillip Island in Southern Victoria.
Like many wildlife species, Cape Barren Geese have adapted to the altered environment including improved pasture and, when left unmanaged, can become overabundant and undesirable.
On Flinders Island, in Bass Strait, recreational hunting is used to manage overabundant wild Cape Barren Geese. The hunting program provides revenue to the local community, ensures that the harvested meat is valued and utilised and protects natural assets and agricultural interests. In a typical year around 2,500 geese are harvested by hunters on Flinders Island.
Another avenue worth exploring is that of small scale commercial processing for the restaurant trade. The Australian Deer Association recently assisted in the organisation of a social 'Goose cook off' amongst a team of Melbourne's top chefs as a way of highlighting wild food. The chefs all valued the versatility and unique flavour of the geese. There will be an article on this in the next edition of Australian Deer magazine.
The challenge for government and the community is to move beyond the emotion and the hyped rhetoric which typically accompanies discussions on overabundant wildlife and to implement plans based on facts, data and evidence which address the environmental, social and economic concerns. In that context, sustainably using the wildlife resource (either recreationally or commercially) is just common sense.