Anthea Yule, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay vice president, said the deer population growth is happening all over the country. Photo / NZME
Farmers in Hawke’s Bay want to see a change in attitude in response to the exploding deer population across the region and country.
Anthea Yule, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay vice president, said the deer population
growth is happening all over the country now.
“I was looking out the kitchen window and there was a deer, and I thought I’d just sneak up and get there, by the time I had to get around a vehicle that was parked there, there were two.
“I live on a farm that has a lot of crops, and it has always been a bit of a flight path for the deer, but I think it’s becoming a nationwide problem.”
A Central Hawke’s Bay farmer said he had signed up to website HuntingHQ to invite hunters on to their land, and help with their deer problem.
“In the last 10 weeks we’ve might have had six parties on the weekends, and they’ve gone away with 2-4 deer every weekend, but that’s really just scraping the sides of what’s there.
“We just tell them to shoot whatever, there is no cap on what they can take. The problem is beyond just hunting them now, we need a massive culling.”
He said he is concerned by the damage to crops and trees as well as the disease that deer can spread.
“If TB got out like it did up in Tutira, it would cause a hell of a headache for the region.”
Federated Farmers is consulting on a deer population position paper in response to the issue.
The draft paper points out that private landowners’ views on wild deer vary, with some wanting to continue to protect the population.
“Many view deer as a desirable resource for recreational hunting, an income stream for guided hunting or see potential commercial value if the venison recovery industry becomes active again.”
The paper also calls out a “legacy attitude” of hunters and farmers, as many hunters are reluctant to shoot pregnant hinds or those with young.
Some other potential reasons for the deer population growth include the Covid lockdown preventing many from hunting, a lack of any wide-scale commercial venison recovery operations since the early 2000s, increasing habitat for deer from forestry conversion and Illegal liberations of new populations.
The draft paper claims there would be strong resistance from many private landowners to any central government intervention in deer management on private land.
Typically the regional council manages pests on private land on behalf of the community, while DoC manages the public conservation land, however collaboration and funding aid from the government is not out of the picture.
DoC director of biodiversity Meg Rutledge said there is a new framework in development called Te Ara ki Mua to better manage wild animals through developing regional solutions with communities.
“The draft framework reflects a range of considerations for deer in the environment, including their recreational, cultural, ecological, and economic value, alongside any negative impacts they may have. The department is increasing investment into goat control as part of this draft framework,” Rutledge said.
DoC and the Game Animal Council will be co-signatories on the final Te Ara ki Mua, while the NZ conservation authority and Federated Farmers will be spoken to as part of the final consultation.
The final version is expected some time soon in the new year.