Acclimatisation Societies and their Activities
With the decrease in the number and scope of introductions, the functions of acclimatisation societies have altered considerably. Although they have ceased to carry out the purpose for which they were formed, they are still known by their original titles. Since 1900 their activities have been very largely limited to the management of game birds and game species of freshwater fish, although until about 1930 they were responsible for a wide range of game animals. The number of societies has varied between 25 and 35 as subdivision and amalgamation of districts has occurred; since 1960 there have been 24 societies. The size of these societies varies from the Tauranga Acclimatisation District, covering 650 square miles, to the Auckland Acclimatisation District covering 9,940 square miles. Membership of societies is open to all holders of fishing or shooting licences who elect councils to direct activities. There are two districts not administered by such societies–Rotorua and Southern Lakes–taken over by the Department of Internal Affairs in 1930 and 1945 respectively. These acclimatisation societies are charged with responsibility for the local administration of certain aspects of the Fisheries Act (1908) and the Wildlife Act (1953). As their membership stems from game shooters and anglers, their chief interests naturally lie with these classes of wildlife, although under the Wildlife Act one of their functions is the protection of various absolutely protected species. The main activities of acclimatisation societies today are the conservation of fish and game including restocking programmes, ranging duties for law enforcement, and the issue of angling and shooting licences. The many small acclimatisation districts are a result of the poor communications and isolation of the period when most societies were formed. Certain societies cooperate in order to employ a full-time field officer and some North Island societies have formed loose federations. North Island and South Island councils which meet once or twice a year provide opportunities for society delegates to consult on common problems. These councils administer funds comprised of moneys levied from all game and fishing licence holders, which are used to subsidise various research and management projects.