Sustainable Deer Management

Sustainable Management of Deer

Recognition of the value of hunting deer and other Wild Animals has long been the wish of recreational hunters in New Zealand.

The mantra that “the only good deer is a dead one” has persisted in the three departments that have successively had responsibility for wild deer and “Game Management” was a dirty word.,

During the helicopter boom era, a number of popular hunting areas were excluded from helicopter hunting, to allow hunters to manage deer densities and enjoy their hunting free of the effects of helicopter hunting of deer.

In the lower North Island the popular forest parks all have areas excluded to WARO. But during the last round of WARO permitting, many of these restrictions were removed. This resulted in a High Court challenge by members of the LNIRDF that saw the department decisions declared “Invalid”.

The outcry about those decisions has led Reg Kemper, DOC Operations Director at Palmerston to form a working  group to “Determine the future management approach for the Ruahines.” And that the group work together to establish future goals and shared objectives for Ruahines. The result has been the development of a plan for the sustainable management of deer in the Ruahine Forest Park.

A “Ruahine Deer Working Group” has been established with participation by the foundation, NZDA Head office, Conservation Board, Game Animal Council, WARO reps, and department managers and specialist staff. This group has been meeting regularly since Mach 2016

An initial vision for the group was identified as; 

Sustainable hunting resource / game animal population existing in harmony with resilient ecosystem in Ruahine Forest Park (RFP).

The foundation has hopes that this signals a new thinking regarding deer management and fully supports the development of the Ruahine Deer Plan.Discussions have obviously not been without some contentious issues being negotiated but to date we feel that the process is heading in the right direction.


  • 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;
  • We had our last meeting on 9 May. Parties there were LNIRDF, WARO reps (Wairarapa Helicopters) , Game Animal Council, NZDA (Geoff Kerr) DoC staff and science reps. Don Adams from Conservation Board. AND new NZDA National office rep Rob Howey.