News Update September 2018

Here's an update on what the Foundation has been up to over the last few  months.

WARO Permit Renewals

As we reported earlier, the promised “National WARO review” never took place. Instead DOC hosted several “engagement” meetings with selected organizations. This was followed by “consultation” meetings with clubs (some individual hunters attended to). We were asked to comment on the departments own assessment of areas to be allocated for WARO permits for the next permit period. At this stage, we don’t know the term of that permit period. In the lower north island, meetings were held at three locations, all of which were well attended. The exiting Closed areas in the Ruahines were unchanged. We argued that the status quo remain until the Ruahine Deer Plan was agreed. In the Tararua’s and  Remutaka’s, DOC stuck with the previous decisions that were the cause of the Judicial Review challenge in the High Court, that the LNIRDF won. We were informed that deer densities were not part of the consideration for issuing permits to WARO. It seems that, if aerial shooting and recovery is feasible, then the default position is that the area is open to WARO. The participation of recreational hunters in also controlling deer is not a factor. Having made our views known, we await the outcome of this process. Seems the chances are, it will be back to the High Court – if DOC take heed of the concerns expressed to them. It would appear that the response from recreational hunters to DOC was high, with the Palmerston North office receiving 400 email submissions.

Meeting with Minister

Gary Harwood, Greg Duley and LNIRDF President Gordon George met with Conservation Minister Eugine Sage. Despite previous concerning views expressed by the Minister over Tahr and the Game Animal Council, the meeting went better than expected. The delegation conveyed to the Minister our concerns regarding the failure of the existing WARO permitting process and the negative effects this has had on deer management and recreational and commercial hunting. It was clear that the GAC is going to find it difficult to do their job, with the attitude the Minister has been conveying.

 Ruahine Deer Plan

There have been several meetings of the working group and we’re now getting to the stage where some hard decisions will have to be made. DOC is developing a monitoring plan so that the deer densities and their impacts on vegetation can be determined. There is some agreement between WARO reps and hunters, that the current Open Slather WARO system is not working. Regional Director Reg Kemper is keen to see some positive actions and appears supportive of a new approach to how WARO, recreational hunting and deer are managed. The plan is a fresh look at how deer are managed over the whole forest park. The position of the Foundation is;

  • there needs to be increased harvest of deer including from what have been areas closed to WARO.
  • management blocks are identified (approx. 6)
  • there is increased monitoring to make informed decisions
  • harvest levels are agreed, that commercial and recreational hunters contribute to.
  • There are more helicopter landing sites allowed, to enable recreational hunting to be more effective.
  • WARO is on a controlled basis, limited to a single operator, limited predictable duration per area, sex ratios agreed and audit of activity via venison processing plants.

The benefits of this is the WARO operator gets better quality deer during better weather and more efficiently. Benefits to hunters, is more predictability when and where WARO will be operating, less disturbance during peak hunting times

 One of issues to be resolved, is obtaining data on how effective recreational hunters are being. How many hunt, when, where and how successful are they. It is simple to find out the commercial WARO results, as these are captured through the venison processing plants. The challenge for the LNIRDF is to come up with an approach that tells us what the recreational hunters are doing.

 DOC Battle for the Birds

 At this stage, we are unaware of what the next proposals are for this aerial 1080 predator control programme in the Ruahine’s. The position of the LNIRDF that where aerial predator control is justified, the effects of poison on deer should be minimised through the use deer repellent.

 Where to from here

 Currently in the new is the attack on Tahr by the Minister of Conservation

This is not just a Tahr hunters’ problem. President Gordon George has been helping the NZ Tahr Foundation in their battle to get some common sense into the debate. A well-reasoned and professional alternative is being put forward by the Tahr Foundation and they deserve all the support they can get from hunters.

It is clear that the minister also has her sights set on deer and also the Game Animal Council. Hopefully the Ruahine deer plan process with be allowed to reach a conclusion without intervention.

Getting a workable plan for the Ruahines is a priority for the LNIRDF.  In the words of our President Gordon George “The writing is on the wall and big battles are coming along with change. All hunters need to unite and create a truly effective large well-resourced lobby group. The greatest ally the extremists have is the “I’m alright jack” apathetic attitude of the average hunter. That needs to change if our children are to have the opportunities we have had”.



Posted: Wed 26 Sep 2018