Department of Conservation (DOC) plans to kill rare goats on Arapawa Island next month have sparked outrage.
Betty Rowe, who runs a 120ha wildlife sanctuary on the island, in the Marlborough Sounds, said the goats were unique.
She said the last time the Forest Service tried to eradicate the goats, 60 supporters came to the island to stand between the shooters and the goats.
Opposition to the three-week cull is mounting with the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) calling for a halt to DOC's "extermination mission".
The Rare Breeds Society of New Zealand opposes the destruction of the goats, and a plea is being made from the United States to stop "the senseless killing".
Peter and Lori Corriveau, from New Hampshire, who have nine Arapawa Island goats, contacted The Press saying there were only 500 left in the world and called for the cull to be stopped.
However, DOC says it is not trying to wipe out the goats, and the shoot to control their numbers to protect rare coastal vegetation had been carried out for 20 years.
The department's threats programme manager in the Marlborough Sounds, Phil Clerke, said two shooters would hunt the goats only on DOC land on the eastern side of the island.
Some private landowners in the northern part of the island were also happy for the hunters to shoot goats.
Clerke said the hunters killed about 400 goats last year, raising questions about low estimates of their numbers.
Clerke said DOC's role was to conserve native species and plants, and Arapawa Island had one of the few remaining examples of Cook Strait coastal vegetation.
But supporters of the goats say the animals are just as rare as native species.
They are believed to be descended from those brought to the island by early settlers or Captain James Cook.
Rowe said the goats had been DNA-tested and a geneticist from the University of Cordoba in Spain had found in October that they were unique.
Rowe said the cull was an "overkill" and said he had unsuccessfully appealed to work with DOC.
"It is DOC's policy not to have anything that is introduced," Rowe said.
"It is almost like they hate the goats because they are an introduced species.
"These are unique and it could be a feather in DOC's cap, but they won't budge.
"It's beyond my comprehension, and with new Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick on board it's not a good look to her portfolio to destroy something that is unique."
Chadwick declined to comment.
The NZDA called on the Government to recognise the rare historic breed under the Rio Convention on World Biodiversity.
Rowe said the former farm land at East Bay was now full of regeneration despite the goats.
She estimated there were up to 200 goats on the island.
Last year a Takaka man was fined $500 under the Wild Animal Control Act for shooting 10 goats at the sanctuary.
Read More about this wonderful goat:
Arapawa Goats in the USA
Arapawa Goat Breeders - USA
DOC set to wipe out historic Arapawa Goats after Xmas - Reconise them instead
New Zealand Deerstalkers' Association (NZDA) has joined the Rare Breeds Society of New Zealand in opposing DOC's proposed destruction of the unique Arapawa Island goat breed, early in the New Year. The Arapawa Island goats are a recognised unique breed, almost certainly released there by Captain James Cook on 2 June 1773 - see attached info from Cook's Diaries. Only a few are left now.
"It is distressing that DOC had chosen the holiday period to carry out a Search and Destroy mission on Arapawa Island with the intention of wiping out this historic herd" NZDA spokesman Dr Hugh Barr said. "New Zealand's historic introduced biodiversity is as important to us as our native biodiversity, under the Rio Convention on Biodiversity" Dr Barr said. "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."
"Yet we have the Department of Conservation, paranoid about exterminating anything introduced to the country, irrespective of the Rio Convention on World Biodiversity that New Zealand is a signatory to. If the Kaimanawa Wild Horse herd can be recognised, then surely DOC has a duty to reconise this rare herd, now extinct in England" Dr Barr said.
NZDA is calling for the Government to halt DOC's extermination mission, and give due recognition to the very high historic significance of this rare breed, and as well, recognise them under the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity. News Story