Public Land Deer Control Utilising Recreational Hunters

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Money is currently being blown out the exhausts of helicopters with endless aerial control programs taking place on public land with next to no consideration in aligning these programs with recreational hunters. 

The Government bodies that are meant to be representing hunters are getting walked all over with little regard. In some cases, they are working against the hunters they should be representing. 

There is no doubt that animal control needs to occur in all forms; however, it could be done more cost-effectively if all available control methods were utilised. 

Currently, major government departments are working against each other, bleeding money that they could be injecting into regional areas that need it most. 

In New Zealand, they are doing it differently. They still have their helicopter culls, 1080 bomb ups and trapping; however, they have a body looking out for hunters where the land is accessible and a joint apprach can be taken. 

The New Zealand Game Animal Council is a statutory body established under the Game Animal Council Act 2013. It represents the interests of the hunting sector and seeks to improve the management of hunting resources while contributing to positive conservation outcomes.

  • Enhance the quality of game animal herds while remaining consistent with conservation values
  • Develop positive relationships between the Game Animal Council and stakeholders
  • Promote hunter safety
  • Reduce conflict among stakeholders
  • Improve the acceptance of hunting as a safe and legitimate activity
  • Promote standards for hunting and management of game animals

In New Zealand, the Game Animal Council is working hard to see that hunters, landholders and the Department of Conservation all get the result they are looking for with a sensible joint approach. 

The GAC of New Zealand has collaborated with other departments, hunting bodies and local landholders to implement a hunter-led deer management project to help shift the demographics of a red deer herd in the Lake Sumner Recreational Hunting Area. 

The NZGAC's Lake Sumner RHA Deer Management Project aims to reduce deer numbers in a designated hunting area without choppers and 1080 baiting killing the entire herd. 

The Project to Sustainably Manage Deer

The Game Animal Council is seeking to initiate proactive management to achieve positive outcomes for both recreational hunting and native species conservation. It is proposed to apply game management principles to move the population to a lower-density, high-quality red deer herd. This will produce better conditioned meat animals and potentially superior trophy animals, while providing a healthier habitat and achieving the biodiversity preservation objectives of the RHA.

Management will primarily be undertaken by experienced ground-based volunteer hunters in late May and early June with the objective of removing 30 percent of the mature hinds. If successful, the operation will both lower the overall size of the herd and reduce the number of fawns born later this year, limiting population growth for the next three to five years. This will allow time to develop a longer-term RHA management strategy and a five-year management plan.

You can read more about the project’s objectives and implementation plan here.

If Australian hunters could get representation like the NZGAC gives to their hunters, many hunting opportunities could open up and a resource could be utilized.

Currently recreational hunters are bypassed at every animal management discussion. There is no doubt recreational hunters in Australia could be used just as our Kiwi neighours have been in the RHA Deer Management Project. It would be a win for everyone in the end.

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