Could farming New Zealand’s native birds actually save them?

Drive 03/11/2018
Photo: Getty.

A food advocate says there’s an easier way to save New Zealand’s endangered bird species – but it involves eating them.

South Island farmer Roger Beattie told RadioLIVE that farming species like weka and kereru can actually increase their populations.

“Farming ensures that you breed more than you kill,” he told Ryan Bridge.

But the 1953 Wildlife Act currently protects most native species from hunting and sale, something that Mr Beattie reckons should be rejigged to match the fishing industry.

No farmed species has ever died out.

Under the Fisheries Act, some native fish and shellfish species can be killed and eaten recreationally and commercially – a concept Mr Beattie suggests would work for native birds.

And above all, Mr Beattie argues that some birds would taste great on the dinner table.

“Apparently, [kereru] taste great,” he said, but clarified that he hadn’t tasted one himself. “Everyone who has eaten one says they’re absolutely delicious.”  

The South Island farmer has a special permit to farm eastern buff weka on his property, where he gives weka chicks to wildlife reserves (as they cannot legally be sold).

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage told Stuff that she did not support changing the rules that protect endangered birds, adding that farming can have negative effects on threatened species.

Mr Beattie says the solution just comes down to the basic principles of farming.

“No farmed species has ever died out,” he said.

Listen to the full interview with Roger Beattie above. 

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