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LATEST on the cull threat

United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 "....where the present importance of a genotype might not be known with any precision (if at all) it is incumbent on member States to conserve their biological diversity and protect rather than eliminate or create adverse habitat conditions.
If there is a possibility/probability that a gene base might be lost forever our obligation nationally and internationally becomes even higher. .."
"....the precautionary principle means that if there is doubt about an animal's or plant's exact conservation status, the one that would cause the strongest protective measures to be realized should be chosen...... If there are no data or if data are for whatever reason uncertain....the precaution taken not to embark upon or partner any extermination until such data are to hand and decisive. .."

March 2009 ~ see the News update on the IAGA website

November/ December 2008 ~ After reading Betty's book " Arapawa - once upon an island on the Arapawa goats, one understands the gentle patience with which Betty withstood years of bureaucratic bullying from the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

November 2008 ~ DoC are planning another cull later this month.

June 18 2008 ~ "Arapawa - once upon an island" reviewed

June 18 2008 ~ Assisi Medal to be awarded posthumously to Betty Rowe

June 18 ~ Gordon Copeland, MP, will carry on trying to protect the goats

June 7 2008 ~ Arapawa goats lose a friend

June 1 2008 ~ "I believe their attitude is actually contrary to the Conservation Act.."

May 18 2008 ~ Betty Rowe (More below)

Arapawa Goats - the threatened rare goats of Arapawa Island in New Zealand

Latest news

Background

The 7785 hectare island is mainly privately owned, with a small section (1034 hectare) owned by Department of Conservation. The native forests on the island represent native unique Cook Straight vegetation. However, what we understand is that the bush where the wild goats are browsing is very dense indeed - so thick that one can barely even crawl through it. It is suggested that the goats are keeping the gorse at bay so the native species can keep growing.
Longstanding New Zealand government policy is to get rid of non-native wildlife wherever possible. The only mammals considered native to New Zealand are bats. While one applauds the DOC for its efforts in preserving the native species of New Zealand there are other considerations to bear in mind. DNA tests show that the Arapawa goats are a unique species (Amparo Martínez Martínez, University of Cordoba)
Like the sheep ( non-native to New Zealand) that were introduced to New Zealand by Captain Cook in 1773 and which are now an established part of the New Zealand culture, the goats on Arapawa were also introduced by James Cook. The present goats are descendants of these goats and - however hard the DOC argues that "even if the earlier Cook's goats survived they would now likely be of mixed ancestry" they are now almost certainly the sole descendants of Old English Goats, which became extinct in England in 1954. They are therefore of specific conservation interest as a genetic resource.
It is extremely unfortunate that no accurate census has been able to be carried out. Many of those actually living on the island, including the Sanctuary owner Mrs Betty Rowe, estimate their numbers to be so low that the species could easily die out. Forcibly moving or culling the remaining goats will almost inevitably result in their extinction.
While DOC's offer to do nothing until September has been warmly welcomed as a compromise and temporary reprieve, and although there have been offers from concerned people to re-home the goats on private land, the rounding up of the goats at the expense of the rescuers - particularly at a time when there are kids at foot - is going to be well-nigh impossible. Betty Rowe comments: Marlborough Express chief reporter, Jim Kidson, wrote over 15 years ago:

 

(Photo taken on Arapawa Island by Michael Trotter in 1978)

Latest News

June 1 2008 ~ "I believe their attitude is actually contrary to the Conservation Act.."

May 28 ~ "What will happen to the goats at the Sanctuary?.."

May 20 2008 ~ "She fought long and hard to protect the Arapawa goats from shooters sent by the former New Zealand Forest Service and more recently the Department of Conservation..."

May 18 2008 ~ Betty Rowe

May 8 ~ A ray of hope from Gordon Copeland's meeting with Stephanie Chadwick?

May 1 2008 ~ Betty Rowe

April 11 2008 ~" I don't think you can call it conservation if you wipe out one rare thing to save another..." Betty Rowe

April 3 2008 ~ "evaluation is almost impossible to settle when the basic gene pool is at stake rather than the "value" of fauna and flora from an anthropocentric viewpoint."

March 27 2008 ~ "Mr Grose said goat advocates would be allowed to capture and take away the goats provided they meet certain conditions..."

March 27 2008 ~ New Zealand Television - Campbell Live at 7:00 pm

March 27 2008 ~ Pygmy Goat Club of the United Kingdom adds support for a sensible outcome

March 25 2008 ~ Arapawa goats - to be left alone until September

March 14 2008 ~ Towards a win-win situation. Gordon Copeland calls for dialogue, a little goodwill and a management plan

March 11 2008 ~ American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) "strongly encourages" DOC to develop strategies for the goats' continuation as a viable genetic resource.

March 7 2008 ~ " I am 8 years old and would love your help to save the Arapawa goats..."

NZ Hansard 5th March 2008

http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Debates/QOA/7/3/0/48HansQ_20080305_00000259-4-Goats-Arapawa-Island.htm

4. Goats—Arapawa Island

4. GORDON COPELAND (Independent) to the Minister of Conservation: Is the Department of Conservation still proposing to proceed with a cull to control the goats on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds; if so, when and how?

Hon STEVE CHADWICK (Minister of Conservation) : Yes. The regular operation to control the goats that were introduced to Arapawa Island will happen later this month. We do this to protect rare native forest and threatened plant species in a scenic reserve on that island.

Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The principal question also asked how the cull was to be carried out. The Minister did not address that part of the question.

Madam SPEAKER: Does the Minister wish to add to her answer?

Hon STEVE CHADWICK: Certainly. The cull will be carried out by operators who will be contracted by the Department of Conservation to work the island on foot.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister aware that DNA testing shows that the Arapawa goats are a genetically distinct breed, that they are descendants of goats left on the island by James Cook in, probably, 1773, and that they are almost certainly Old English Goats, which became extinct in England in 1954; if so, does she accept that we have a solemn obligation—[Interruption] I would appreciate members listening to the question. I know that Old English Goats might be humorous in some sense, but we are actually talking about quite a serious issue here. Can I start that one—

Madam SPEAKER: Please be seated. Members, please refrain from discussing or commenting on the question until we have heard it in total.Please start again.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister aware that DNA testing shows that the Arapawa goats are a genetically distinct breed, that they are descendants of goats left on the island by James Cook in, probably, 1773, and that they are almost certainly Old English Goats, which became extinct in England in 1954; if so, does she accept that we have a solemn obligation in terms of the guardianship, the kaitiaki, of these beautiful and unique animals for all future generations?

Hon STEVE CHADWICK: I have been advised that that has not been proven in New Zealand yet, and this breed is not threatened in this country.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister aware that 1,215 concerned citizens of the international community have signed a petition, which has been presented to Parliament today, opposing the shooting of the Arapawa goats; that shooting them is opposed by Bob Kerridge of the SPCA, Betty Rowe, who is a long-time resident of the island, the Deerstalkers Association, the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand, and many others; and that the cull is in breech of the Rio Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources; and will she therefore commit now to put away the guns and, instead, adopt a preservation plan for this unique and wonderful species?

Hon STEVE CHADWICK: I repeat that this species is not threatened in New Zealand. The Department of Conservation works actively with the community on Arapawa Island on the annual operation to cull the goats. And I am aware of the petition presented today.

Gordon Copeland: I seek the leave of the House to table a document containing an extract from the journal of James Cook in which he says he left a male goat and a female goat at Arapawa.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.

Gordon Copeland: I seek the leave of the House to table a document from the chairman of the European Livestock Association.

  • Leave granted.

Gordon Copeland: I seek the leave of the House to table a document from Betty Rowe, setting out the entire background of this whole matter.

  • Leave granted.

Gordon Copeland: I seek the leave of the House to table a letter written to the Prime Minister from the chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK.

  • Leave granted.

Letter to Helen Clark, PM of New Zealand, from a young supporter of the threatened Arapawa goats

    Dear Prime Minister

    My name is Liv Bishop I am 8 years old and would love your help to save the Arapawa goats.

    There are only approximately 300 left in the world. These goats are being shot by cruel people.

    The Arapawa goats are only in one place in the world which is on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds except for in USA and Britain where there are a few being bred.

    These goats are VERY friendly creatures and many people think that the Arapawa goats are stopping the native plants from regenerating but the native plants regenerate themselves. The goats may nibble the native flora and furna but they will not destroy the roots of the plants.

    In 1978 there was no bush the island was just grass but now in 2008 the Island is covered with bush and native plants.

    I would really appreciate your help by making a law that would stop anyone in the world from killing and causing these beautiful lovely harmless creatures from becoming extinct.

    If these people don't stop killing the Arapawa Goats I'm going up the hill and stop them by shutting out SAVE THE GOATS.

     

    Yours sincerely

    Liv Bishop

    (address)

March 3 2008 ~ New move to save the unique goats of New Zealand's Arapawa Island

    As we have said before, The NZ Department of Conservation's desire to protect the unique flora and fauna on the island's reserve is understandable. It is painful, however, to witness such a degree of inflexibility shown by the DOC towards those who want time to round up as many of the threatened goats as possible for rehoming by rare breed enthusiasts Both Betty and our own Rare Breeds Survival Trust have pointed out that the Rio Convention is about Biodiversity - and the Arapawa Island Goats, have been shown to be a unique genetic resource when compared with other goat breeds, as Professor Sponenberg, DVM,PhD, Professor of Pathology and Genetics, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, has reported. What's more, the native flora on Arapawa is regenerating now that most sheep farming on the island has stopped. New Zealand's Scoop website reports today on the story - and warmwell.com has followed the campaign to save the goats.

February 15 ~ Hopes raised that the threatened Arapawa goats may, after all, receive protection

    Gordon Copeland is a New Zealand MP who has kindly offered to present the Arapawa goat petition to the NZ Parliament and to the Minister for Conservation, Stephanie Chadwick. Mainstream media in NZ will thus be represented in the parliamentary press gallery at the time it is presented. We understand that Stephanie (Steve) Chadwick has received many letters in support of the goats and against a cull from helicopters of the goats and their kids.
    While one understands and sympathises with New Zealand's wish to preserve its own native flora and fauna, the terrain in which the goats live is extremely wild and inhospitable. What is more, the Arapawa goat has now been classified, because of its small US and global population, as "genetically distinct" and has been moved to the "Critical" status on the Conservation Priority List for 2008. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has written to the NZ Prime Minister, Helen Clark, to plead for the Arapawa goats : "....A breed with two centuries of development in an enclosed environment has rarity value which qualifies for protection as an historic breed under the Rio Convention on World Biodiversity...... DNA analysis of these animals was undertaken by D.P Sponenberg, DVM., PhD, Professor of Pathology and Genetics, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the work was carried out at the University of Cordoba. The results support their unique genetic status and as such they deserve protection .... .." Read in full

February 9 2008 ~"The Arapawa goat has been moved from 'Study' to 'Critical' on the Conservation Priority List for 2008

    This move is based on the Arapawa goat's small US and global population and the "recent DNA study conducted by the University of Cordoba that shows this breed is genetically distinct."
    Since the goats are at last deemed to be of such importance by the ALBC Research & Technical Program Director, we are hoping that this may prove decisive in protecting them from being summarily shot from helicopters next month.

 

Jan 24 2008 ~ "The Department has taken the issue of rarity into account but it is not part of its role to protect these introduced species."

    The New Zealand Department of Conservation has replied to the letter below. The final paragraph sums up their position: "....The Department has taken the issue of rarity into account but it is not part of its role to protect these introduced species. It is more appropriate that this occurs on private land.
    Whilst it is always regrettable that any animals have to be controlled in such a manner it is an unfortunate necessity to protect the natural indigenous values of the island for the people of New Zealand..."

Jan 23 2008 ~ Update on the last Arapawa goats

    From the last refuge of these rare ancestors of Old English goats on the Island, Betty Rowe of the Arapawa Wildlife Trust asks New Zealand officialdom for a proper census before anything irrevocable is done. She says "... It is of considerable concern that culling may be carried out without any consideration being given to benchmark population figures, or any long term goals beyond eradication. There are numerous examples of such management plans being put into place successfully, namely the sheep on Pitt Island, the Kaimanawa Horses, and the Fordland Wapiti. All introduced breeds co existing on high value conservation estate. The Trust would like to see a population census done of the animals on the Island, with reference to numbers, age groups, and sex ratios. ..."

Letter from Mrs Betty Rowe to the New Zealand Prime Minister, Minister of Conservation, Director General of Conservation and the local DOC Conservator.


      Dear Sir,
       
      Regarding the introduced wildlife on Arapawa Island.
       
       Arapawa Island is home to several introduced Heritage Breeds, namely the Arapawa Sheep, Goats and Pigs, but of  immediate critical importance are the Goats of Arapawa Island,.. The goats have always been widely considered to be of high conservation value, and recent DNA testing at the University of Cordoba with the analysis done by Prof. P. Sponenberg has confirmed their status as a distinct breed and thus  acquiring a high conservation status.  
       
      The Arapawa Wildlife Trust was established  to protect the long term survival of these breeds The establishment of the Trust will insure the land will remain a wilderness area and provide a refuge for some of the unique Arapawa wildlife.  For many years, there has been regular culling of the animals by the DOC, with another planned to start in the  very near future.
       
      The Arapawa Wildlife Trust accepts the high conservation status of the vegetation on the Reserve as set aside by DOC, and would like to see a co-operative management plan put in place that would help secure a wide range of long term goals for all parties concerned. It is of considerable concern that culling may be carried out without any consideration being given to benchmark population figures, or any long term goals beyond eradication. There are numerous examples of such management plans being put into place successfully, namely the sheep on Pitt Island, the Kaimanawa Horses, and the Fordland Wapiti. All introduced breeds co existing on high value conservation estate. 
       
      The Trust would like to see a population census done of the animals on the Island, with reference to numbers, age groups, and sex ratios.
      The Arapawa Sheep numbers are considered to be very low. In the last 30 years there were thought to be  only about 100 animals, but that is pure conjecture and the numbers could be considerably less. Certainly critical. It is recommended that the Arapawa Island Sheep be included in the census as well.
       
      The Arapawa Goat numbers are likewise just a guess. Some estimates put them at 150-200, while others may place it higher.  The genetists involved have suggested that a viable herd of Arapawa Island Goats remain on the island to provide a much needed genetic back-up  for the preservation of the herd.
       
      The Trust strongly believes that it is not possible to carry out responsible management including culling, without some accurate figures to work towards, and such population demographs established.
       
      The Trust would be willing to assist the Department where possible in such a census. The Trust would very much appreciate  the Department establishing a criteria that the Trust could accept as being a bench mark for such a study, and also a methodology that is acceptable to the Trust, in establishing such a population estimate.
       
      The Trust would then like to see these figures being used as a guide to establishing a long term management plan for the Island, that allows a balance to be achieved.
       
      Mrs Betty Rowe
      Director
      Arapawa Wildlife Trust
      Arapawa Island
       
       
She has followed up the e-mails with a hard copy and requested a written reply from all four. She now has about $4,000.00 pledged for the hire of a helicopter if this is needed.

January 4 2008 ~ The Arapawa goats win a reprieve until March

    The shooting of the goats on Arapawa Island in the Eastern part of the Marlborough Sound of New Zealand has been postponed. They were to have been exterminated in a 3 week-long shoot from helicopters next Monday.
    The desire of the Department of Conservation to preserve native NZ species at all costs can be understood - but it is very much to be hoped that their second thoughts in this case can be gratefully built upon.
    An extract from the book, "Flight of the Huia: Ecology and Conservation of New Zealand's Frogs, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals" by Kerry-Jane Wilson ( See www.fishpond.co.nz ) offers, if the DOC decides to remain adamant, a possible alternative to the plan to wipe out the animals:
      " Prior to extermination animals from some islands have been removed and taken into captivity on the mainland, thus preserving them for future use where appropriate."
    The veteran campaigner Betty Rowe of the Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary who has spent 35 years protecting these rare goats, plans as a first step, to get an independent audit of the goat population. She writes in relief to say, "I plan to use the time wisely...the Department of Conservation have been working without any real idea about the numbers of animals. .. We only have until March to finally get a plan into place and the first step is to get an accurate count and then go from there."

January 2 2008 ~ The Rare Breeds Survival Trust has written to the NZ Prime Minister to plead for the Arapawa goats

    Helicopters with hunters on board are set to shoot all the goats and their kids on Arapawa Island from Monday (see below). The RBST has written in dismay to Helen Clark: "....A breed with two centuries of development in an enclosed environment has rarity value which qualifies for protection as an historic breed under the Rio Convention on World Biodiversity...... DNA analysis of these animals was undertaken by D.P Sponenberg, DVM., PhD, Professor of Pathology and Genetics, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the work was carried out at the University of Cordoba. The results support their unique genetic status and as such they deserve protection .... .." Read in full

December 27 2007 ~ "There are feral strains that are of historical and scientific interest, such as the Arapawa goats..." Conservation Society of New Zealand

    Arapawa Island goats - doomed to be culled in January - are believed to be descendants of the Old English goats that died out in the UK during the severe winter of 1954. There are, worldwide, no more than 360.
    Recognising that the Arapawa goat is a separate breed of goat and not a crossbred feral, the Committee of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand gave and approved the goats "rare breed priority" listing at its meeting of 27 May 2004. However, the new Minister for Conservation, Stephanie Chadwick, sees them - not as a unique genetic resource - but as vermin. In connection with her scheme for removing all "pests" from other islands she recently spoke of "restoring the islands and repopulating them with rare native species..." - a sort of ethnic cleansing of fauna to preserve the flora. (The goats nibble the trees and bushes but do not destroy them. See www.jennessfarm.com/ArapawaGoats )
    We are told that between January 7th and 25th January the Arapawa Island goats are to be shot. If you share our dismay, please read more.
    There is now a petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/arapawa-goats
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0712/S00316.htm

DOC To Wipe Out Historic Arapawa Goat Population


   The Department of Conservation is set to slaughter wild goats on a Marlborough Sounds Island in a "fit of extermination paranoia."
      The Arapawa Island goats, likely to be descendants of an 18th century liberation by Captain Cook, have been described by a world renowned geneticist as "unique" but DOC sees them as introduced vermin. And they are sentenced to a firing squad of government shooters.
       Dr Hugh Barr, advocate officer for the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association said  DOC was paranoid about exterminating anything "introduced" to the country, irrespective of the Rio Convention on World Biodiversity that New Zealand is a signatory to.
       " It is disappointing too that the new Minister of Conservation, Steve Chadwick seems to have caught DOC's xenophobic paranoia from her advisers after just over a month in the job," he said.
  The latest killing programme by the department had its beginnings 35 years ago when Betty and Walt Rowe stood up to government shooters hellbent on shooting not only the goats but another unique breed in the Arapawa Island sheep.
Today widow Betty Rowe is still opposing the government killers.
   "It's ridiculous and it's a very bad look for the new Minister of Conservation Steve Chadwick," she says.
       And she says DOC are well aware of the unique breed of goats but fails to see reason or even to discuss the matter.
     "I've told them several times with evidence, that these goats are unique and I've asked for cooperation and communication but to no avail," says Rowe.
  The animals thought to be descendants from either a liberation  of old English milking goats by Captain James Cook in the 1770s or by colonist Wakefield in 1839, have been isolated on the island and retained their unique genetic makeup.
    The Rare Breeds Society of New Zealand has also come out in opposition to DOC's proposed destruction of the unique Arapawa Island goat breed, Departmental shooters are set to move in on January 7 for a three week blitz.
     "Culling over three weeks is a waste of taxpayers' money, unjustified and cruel," says Rowe.
    DOC carries out "search and destroy" which means they kill any and every wild animal. Often young new born kids are left motherless to die a slow death.
        "Cullers don't kill selectively. They kill everything, does with young or new born," says Rowe who has seen numerous slaughtering campaigns by DOC over the 35 years.
   Barr says the "anti-introduced phobia" by the department is out of line with New Zealand's bio-diversity strategy.
      New Zealand's historic introduced biodiversity is as important  as native biodiversity, under the Rio Convention on Biodiversity, Barr says.
    "It is the basis of our agriculture, the industry on which most of our wealth as a nation depends. Very few native species have commercial value," he explains.
NZDA is calling for the Government to halt DOC's extermination mission, and give due recognition to this rare historic breed, under the Rio Convention.
Marlborough conservationist Lloyd Hanson said the goats were doing no harm to vegetation.
       "In fact the island once largely farmland has reverted to bush and scrub with the active regeneration,' he says.


Will they all be dead by January 25th 2008?

Arapawa Island goats were originally left on Arapawa Island by Captain Cook or by his men and are thought to be the descendants of the Old English goats that died out in the UK during the severe winter of 1954. Further DNA testing is planned to continue in '08. In the meantime it is important to safeguard numbers - and there are, worldwide, no more than 360. The proposed cull of these wild goats on Arapawa seems to run counter to all recent concern for genetic conservation. Arapawa is a very large island - the goats occupy only a small part of it doing little, if any, damage to vegetation.

We share the deep concern of veteran campaigner Betty Rowe of the Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary which she and her late husband established over 30 years ago and which is now a Charitable Trust. In 1977 when the NZ Forest Service tried to exterminate them before, there was, according to, Betty

    " an upswelling of angry people who trudged up the hill and back down again every night for two weeks, putting themselves between the shooters and the goats. It was a beautiful moment of compassion."
Betty is now 76 and can no longer lead such splendid defiance.

Christine Ball, BGS Overseas Officer of Goat Genetics writes:

    The situation is dire especially in the light of the recent survey undertaken by Marilyn Burbank (USA) which totals 360 approx known live Arapawas at this point. The survey covered breeders in NZ/USA/UK.

    More info on the breed can be found here:- http://www.arapawagoat.org/

    Betty has spent the last 35 yrs battling with the DOC :-  http://www.doc.govt.nz/

    Many culls of the feral Arapawa goats have taken place on Arapawa Island and without Betty the Arapawa goat would probably have been extinct long ago - http://www.rarebreeds.co.nz/rowe.html DNA testing on goat breeds including the Arapawa has taken place at the University of Cordoba in Spain during '07. Organised by the ALBC through their technical advisor Dr. Phil Sponenberg DVM, PhD - http://www.albc-usa.org/staff.html

    Results showed the Arapawa is not related to Spanish breeds as some thought and this makes their possible link to the Old English breed (now extinct) more likely. Further DNA testing will continue in '08. In the meantime it is important to safeguard numbers so the proposed cull of the feral goats flies in the face of all the scientific evidence. Arapawa is a very large island and the feral Arapawa goats occupy a small part of it doing little if any damage to vegetation.

(Six Arapawas (2M + 4F) were imported to the UK in 2005. Initially to a private herd in Shropshire which passed on the original 6 goats + their kids to three other locations in '06. In '07 a breeding pair was transferred from Beale Park to the Cotswold Farm Park :- http://www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk/  so now there are four small breeding clusters.)
Further DNA testing - if allowed to take place - is likely to prove the New Zealand goats are indeed a unique genetic resource.

here


Gordon Copeland Press Release
For Immediate Release
Friday, 14th March 2008

Copeland not giving up on Arapawa Island Goats

Independent MP Gordon Copeland yesterday forwarded an open letter to the Minister of Conservation calling for dialogue around the proposed cull of these goats. Mr Copeland believes that with a little goodwill, it should be possible to create a "win-win" situation which can both secure the survival of the goats themselves and, at the same time, avoid damage to flora on the island.

He emphasises that there is still considerable opposition to the cull both from within New Zealand and increasingly, from rare breeds, and animal rights groups in the USA, UK, and Europe.

"In fact, if we don't talk the matter through, I am concerned that there will be a unseemly confrontation, on the island, between the Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and those who oppose the cull," said Mr Copeland.

"I am advised that many volunteers are now waiting to come to the island and confront DOC, should the cull go ahead."

"This should be avoided. The continued presence of the goats on the island from the time of James Cook in the 1770s, until now, constitutes an important part of New Zealand's natural history. With a little give and take, there is no reason why we cannot both celebrate and preserve that history whilst, at the same time, limiting the habitat of the goats to a relatively small area on a large island with the rest set aside as a reserve for native flora and fauna to thrive."

"The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy sums up the present situation very well. They have said that ‘highly adapted populations like the Arapawa, take centuries to develop but only hours to destroy'. They have written to Prime Minister Helen Clark along those lines, as have a number of other internationally representative groups."

Attachment: Letter to the Minister <<Arapawa Island Goats>>

ENDS

Gordon Copeland                        
Independent MP
Phone:  04 4706998
Mobile:         027 4726998    

Other Contacts
Betty Rowe
Lives on Arapawa Island and looks after a private herd of goats
Phone:  03 5799032

Peter Beech
Piction: Runs an Eco-tour which includes visits to the goats on the island
Phone:  03 5736891

See also website: www.warmwell.com/arapawagoats.html, and many others under the general heading "Arapawa Goats"



 Hon. Steve Chadwick
Minister of Conservation
 
Dear Minister,
 
Re: Arapawa Island Goats
 
I would like, if at all possible, to dialogue with you a little further concerning the proposed cull of these goats.
 
I am advised that Arapawa Island is around 17,000 acres in extent. No one has accurate information about the number of goats but it is has been put to me that the population is probably no greater than around 120 and that they live in an area which is probably no larger than 2-3,000 acres. In other words, they occupy only a small section of the Island's total area.
 
The total number of goats in private ownership is estimated to be 307 (124 in the USA, 20 in Great Britain, and 163 in New Zealand) so that, if the estimated number in the wild on the island is correct, the total herd, worldwide, is just 427.
 
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the UK define a goat breed as being "at risk" if there are less than 1,000 breeding females in existence so, even on a global basis, the Arapawa goat is definitely considered to be "at risk" of eventual extinction.
 
In your letter to me dated 21 February you justify the cull on the basis that Arapawa Island contains some "nationally significant... forest communities and plant species". You also point out, however, that part of the reserve has already been fenced.
 
Given these realities, it seems to me that through dialogue and cooperation, the potential is there to create a "win-win" situation which can both secure the survival of the goats themselves and, at the same time, minimise the damage to flora to which you refer.
 
Instead of using the blunt instrument of a cull, with all of its negative connotations and the strong opposition both from NZ and overseas, a commitment to talk with people such as Betty Rowe, the SPCA, and representatives of other groups, could I suggest lead to better outcomes all round.
 
In particular, after an impartial count that includes the feral goats remaining on the island, I would like to advance the notion of a management plan. The management plan could look at a variety of options including the enclosure of the goats in a special area on the island designated for heritage breeds (perhaps including sheep and pigs, in addition to goats) and its development as a tourist attraction.
 
In the process the Department of Conservation could garner a new group of friends and supporters.
 
The continued presence of the goats on the island from the time of James Cook until now, constitutes an important part of New Zealand's natural history and, rather than seeing the goats as a pest to be eradicated, this whole issue could, with some good will, be turned around to create opportunities which would be of value not only to New Zealanders, but to our heritage status within the international community.
 
With that in mind I would be grateful for an opportunity to discuss possible options with you prior to the cull proceeding.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Gordon F Copeland MP
Tel. 04 470 6998
Fax. 04 439 6429
gordon.copeland@parliament.govt.nz
 


March 26 2008

http://www.radionz.co.nz/__data/assets/audio_item/0018/1411308/ckpt-20080325-1755-Arapawa_Goat_Cull_Reprieve-wmbr.asx

A cull of goats on Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds has been postponed after a vigorous campaign by locals who believe they are a rare lost breed.

The Department of Conservation says it will put the cull off until Spring. Ian Telfer reports:

Ian Telfer: Arapawa is a large island at the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound, said to be where Captain Cook first saw and named Cook Strait.

A long time resident, Betty Rowe, says DNA tests done at the end of last year, show that the goats are likely to be descended from those released by Captain Cook in 1773 so that future explorers would have source of meat.
Ms Rowe says the goats deserve protection as they appear to be a rare breed now lost from England.

    Betty Rowe: "It was called the English Goat - it is now extinct, and if these little goats can be slotted into that 1/16th category then we have resurrected something. There are many wonderful possibilities here."
Betty Rowe says she's been campaigning for the goats to be protected for 35 years and it's time DOC recognised that they can co-exist with the forest.

The Department of Conservation's Sounds Area manager, Roy Grose, says the cull is a part of an annual control programme necessary to protect the native forests in the reserves on the island. But he says DOC's decided to give supporters five months to relocate the goats onto private land

    Roy Grose: "We've always been keen to work with the community here on Arapawa Island and there's a certain, er, 'sector' on the Island that are 'pro-goat' We saw this as a good option to shooting goats when there could be live captures."
Betty Rowe says the stay of execution for the goats is definitely a step forward - but she says there is a fundamental conflict between DOC's purist line to protect indigenous species and the introduced species which have now found their place in the eco-system.

DOC's Roy Grose again:

    "We're quite clear in our message that the Reserve is not the place for goats to be on that island. There's a huge amount of private land which the goats still freely roam without any form of animal control going on so it's more appropriate that the goats are looked after on private land rather than on public conservation land."
Independent MP, Gordon Copeland, went in to bat for the Arapawa goats in Parliament three weeks ago, tabling a petition against the cull. Mr Copeland says he will be telling the government that DOC is misinterpreting the law:
    Gordon Copeland: "I'm having a meeting with Steve Chadwick, the Minister of Conservation, on the 9th April to tease that possibility out, of saying, 'Look, can't we actually reposition this issue, to recognise that it's possible both to preserve a beautiful part of our natural history and at the same time the flora and fauna on that island?' "
Gordon Copeland says that, after pressure, DOC recently agreed to reposition the tahr population (see note here) in coexistence with the native flora and the Arapawa goat situation is no different.For Checkpoint, this is Ian Telfer."


 


Summary of the letter from Simon Reeves to Stephanie Chadwick, Minister of Conservation March 2008

(LL.B. (Auckland); LL.M. (Virginia) Legal adviser to the Rare Breeds Society of New Zealand Author, International Encyclopaedia of Environmental Law of New Zealand Member, New Zealand Government Delegation to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED/the Earth Summit), Rio 1992
(see full letter at pdf) Since Stockholm we have included principles of environmental protection some of which such as its Principle 21 have become enforceable law. We have also espoused the precautionary principle and its related concept of intergenerational equity.

In New Zealand we then adopted all such responsibilities in our Resource Management Act 1992 by its s. 5(2) which provides that "sustainable management" shall mean inter alia the sustenance of "the potential of natural and physical resources" …"to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations" now and hereafter.

So by our own domestic legislation we are further statutorily bound to sustain whilst recognising that we might not necessarily have all of the answers and that there might be some unknowns about which we should take care to conserve, protect and, if necessary, bottle away somewhere until "needed on the voyage" like some steamship luggage of last century's travellers.

And by the Convention on Biological Diversity and its New Zealand action plan Theme 4 we have accepted responsibility for Earth's gene base wherever it might be found - including in those animals which were once domesticated by human intervention but which have since become part of the wild. To those latter species we now owe a duty to "identify and monitor" which can only mean a preservationist approach - if only to ensure that by their having become wild we might have something to gain from their amended gene pool for our own wise use.

As regards those animals in New Zealand which were "wild" when imported into these islands for hunting and game purposes their main (if only) source of protection must be the various and wider interest in preserving and protecting Earth's gene pool as evidenced by the United Nations' (and the New Zealand Government's) Declarations, the Biodiversity Conviction and our own RMA.

Simon Reeves (LL.B. (Auckland); LL.M. (Virginia)

Legal adviser to the Rare Breeds Society of New Zealand Author, International Encyclopaedia of Environmental Law of New Zealand Member, New Zealand Government Delegation to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED/the Earth Summit), Rio 1992 Official Youth Observer, United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) Stockholm, 1972


Critique Of Betty's Book By Mary Critchley.

Arapawa - once upon an island Betty Rowe

The story is far more than the chronicle of a battle. The hardening of Betty's courage and resolve against what she saw as a wilfully blind bureaucracy is certainly an important part of the book. But at its heart is the woman herself; someone of a depth, humour, and love that puts her way above the ordinary. The move to Arapawa Island was, at first, anything but the culmination of the happy dream that, back in noisy comfortable Pennsylvania, she had been determined to follow in order to show her three children "something of a life that isn't plastic-wrapped, pre-packaged, or advertised as a prerequisite to happiness."

With few advantages nor many skills to make it easy, the family moved to New Zealand and, charmed by the beauty and the people encountered, had nevertheless to overcome often painful humiliations to get to grips with an alien culture. After a while they moved to the wild, beautiful and storm-tossed Arapawa where the blessings of modern life the rest of us take so much for granted were far away. Their first attempts at self-sufficiency met snags and they often fell into the feast/famine syndrome. Even the generator, once bullied into operation, was found to have been put so close to the living area that they simply couldn't bear the noise and smell.

    "The pride in self-sufficiency was often drowned bu sacrifice, denial of comfort and a longing for the good old days of immediate gratification when every need had not to be preceded by hours of muscle-racking work."
How easy it would have been to gloss over such trials. But the bad as well as the bliss is there - the disasters often written in a way to make you smile as well as flinch in sympathy.

It was the gift of a couple of orphaned goats that was to change the course of Betty's existence (and these two were themselves to be directly instrumental in saving many of their kind from government attempts at extermination - as an exciting moment on page 91 shows.)

The scientists who came to the island had spoken of the mammals there as "noxious vermin and pests" and lectured Betty that as a foreigner she could not possibly understand the fragile New Zealand ecology. What Betty did understand was that goats were to be shot from helicopters and their bodies poisoned with 1080 in order to kill the wild pigs. Talk of "control" was nonsense. Betty caught sight of a report that used the word "extermination" and that was what was planned. An agricultural historian, A.R Werner, wrote to Betty that "the photographs of the Arapawa goat were in my opinion almost indistinguishable from the original English breed..." but, in the manner of government departments everywhere who, knowing nothing, always know best, Dr Werner's expert opinion of the genetic value of the Arapawa goats as the sole survivors of the now extinct English goat, was scornfully ignored.

Betty's wish to save what she could of the wild goat population drew support from other equally rebellious and warm hearted people. "We could not allow this muddle that passed for Ministerial wisdom to go unchallenged". The goats' champions did nothing violent to deter the officials - but their daring presence on the mountain, their interfering talk and action certainly made things harder for the forces of extermination. At one point, defiantly walking through the killers' camp then dashing back through the sheltering trees, swapping hats and jerseys to reappear like a stage army, they heard the appalled comment, "there must be hundreds of them!" - and the nine who had done it hugged themselves with fierce glee. But the killing was real:

    "...I almost jumped out of my skin when another shot rang out above me and watched horrified as a little buck vaulted head over heels past where I crounched, then lay dying with half its side blown away...staggering to my feet I picked up rocks and hurled them at the goats below to make them run. I screamed until I was hoarse, "Run, run. Don't just stand there. Run! With tails up and beards flying they raced out of sight. I sank to the ground and buried my head in my hands, sobbing..."
Betty's struggle to protect the wild creatures she loved culminated in the building of a Sanctuary where visitors can come and learn - but she too needed sanctuary from time to time and the book describes with devastating candour the sacrifices she sometimes made in order to feel she was being true to herself. While, alas, the battle for the Arapawa goats continues and can never be certain of a happy ending, Betty's own account of all the battles of her middle-aged life is a testament of victory. After reading this book you may come to feel, as I do, in a world that can appal us with its mad cruelty, that the goats symbolise something beyond themselves - something worth striving for against all odds. As Betty wrote at the very end of the book, "The goats, timid and wary monuments to a bygone era, call softly to me and know I am their friend....we could but weep for the dead and promise those that survived that we would never give up." Those of us who feel that with Betty's death we have lost a friend, can, by buying and enjoying her book, feel that we are helping in a small way to continue her incredible work.