Latest Deer Working Group meeting September 2017

Foundation representatives on the Ruahine Deer Plan Working Group attended the latest meeting of the group. Other groups represented were Game Animal Council, Wairarapa Helicopters, Conservation Board and DOC staff. Reg Kemper, DOC Operations Director for the Lower North Island Region was also present. Items discussed at this meeting included;

Conservation Management Strategy (CMS); Concerns have been expressed regarding the lack of obligation in the draft CMS to follow the direction of the Ruahine deer Plan. After a couple of meetings with Operations Director Reg Kemper it would appear that adequate provision has now been incorporated in the CMS. Without this, the foundation felt that the Deer Plan would be of little use to hunters.

Deer Plan; Duncan Toogood had provided initial suggestions for Goals and Objectives for the plan. These mainly focused on department Ecosystem Goals and Objectives. These essentially gave priority for protection within the Northern Ruahine’s where maintaining and improving endangered species (including whio) exist. The remainder of the forest park to be maintained in a “resilient state”

The over-all Vision for the Deer Plan is “A sustainable deer hunting resource / game animal population existing in harmony with a resilient ecosystem in the Ruahine Forest Park”

Goals and Objectives for recreational and commercial hunting are still to be developed. A recreational hunter survey has been undertaken, to give guidance in developing the plan.

Monitoring; Department staff are developing a program for monitoring deer and their impacts. Methods basically follow existing techniques for deer (pellet counting transects) and vegetation (establishment and measurement of vegetation plots).

Hunter Survey; An online questionnaire was undertaken of hunters applying for DOC hunting permits in the Ruahine’s. Permit application were given the option of filling out the questionnaire. One of the information needs to develop a deer plan is how do hunters do in the Ruahine’ s and what deer management do they want. Geoff Kerr of the Game Animal Council has run a survey of hunters and has produced initial results. Most important to hunters is taking home meat and enjoying the outdoors. Most important places are hunting the tops and most productive places to hunt are slip faces. In helicopter recovery of deer (WARO) most hunters feel allowing helicopters everywhere (during the winter) would make hunting worse than it is now. Most preferred restriction on WARO limit harvesting of stags.

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