The Department of Conservation is to shed 140 jobs and reduce the number of conservancy regions, under plans announced today.
The department has been under pressure for some time to reduce inefficiency and waste.
DOC’s new owners, Warner Bros, are reportedly concerned that too much emphasis has been placed on preserving uninteresting animals, like native parrots and snails.
The restructure will see a renewed focus on conserving Northern European species of flora and fauna.
A wolf-breeding programme is due to commence in 2014, and DOC staff are working with scientists to determine whether a species of giant eagle can be genetically engineered.
Studio executive Lewis T. Dolfowitz confirmed that DOC was looking at whether it would be possible to extract DNA from the remains of the Haast’s Eagle.
“The challenges are immense”, said Dolfowitz, “but Universal managed to do it with dinosaurs, so we remain optimistic.”
However, plans to breed fire-breathing dragons are on hold, after government officials confirmed that it would require a change to health and safety laws before the animals could be utilised in place of computer-generated beasts.
Unions have expressed concern that actors could be burned to death by the terrifying monsters. They have also pointed out that if one of the dragons escaped DOC custody a holocaust of horror could be unleashed upon the nation’s cities, leading to an orgy of indiscriminate murder and mayhem from the skies.
But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has blasted unions, accusing them of trying to sabotage Warner Bros’ plans to pour millions of dollars into the economy.
“Right now there is a very real risk that Warners will walk away from plans to buy the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment”, said Joyce.
“Are we really going to let the risk of a few nasty burns derail this massive economic opportunity?”
But even if Warners can persuade the government to get health and safety laws changed so that murderous fire-breathing dragons become a reality, the studio faces another massive challenge, due to executives underestimating DOC’s ability to grow dragons.
While the department has a world-recognised tuatara breeding programme, it has so far failed to produce a single giant fire-breathing dragon.
But Warners remains positive about its investment in New Zealand.
“John Key’s government has been incredibly supportive,” said executive Laura M. Stern. “They understand our desire to turn New Zealand into a giant Middle Earth theme park.
“When we first came up with the idea we looked around for the right place. The land that Tolkien describes in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is one of decay and decline. It is a land being slowly overwhelmed by a creeping darkness.
“When we saw the economic and environmental policies of this government, we knew we had found the right place.”