Story: Conservation – a history

The last goat on Macauley Island

The last goat on Macauley Island

Goats were introduced to forest-covered Macauley Island, in the Kermadecs, about 1800 as food for castaways. As goat numbers increased, they ate the trees and shrubs, and the island became a grassy meadow. In 1966 a team from the New Zealand Wildlife Service exterminated all 3,200 goats – a density of about 10 goats per hectare. Wildlife officer Brian Bell (second from right) holds the last goat, shot in 1971. Others pictured (from left to right) are Gordon Williams (Wildlife Service), John Yaldwyn (Dominion Museum) and Wim Spiekman (Dominion Museum).

In 2007, 40 years later, the shrubby vegetation is slowly regenerating, but the island still lacks large trees.

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10035490
Photograph by R. H. Simpson

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How to cite this page:

Simon Nathan, 'Conservation – a history - A background issue, 1908–1965', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 January 2022)

Story by Simon Nathan, published 24 Sep 2007, updated 1 Aug 2015