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Deer Are Pests Not Game

26.3.2001 - Media Release - Dunedin

DEER ARE PESTS NOT GAME

Deer hunters are being irresponsible to want deer classed as a game animal according to the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

Sue Maturin, the Society's Southern Conservation Officer said the Society was dismayed by suggestions from National MP's Nick Smith and Eric Roy that hunters should have a greater role in management of deer.

Ms Maturin was responding to the New Zealand Deer Stalkers Association and Safari Club International call for deer to be classed as a game animal. (Southland Times 26.3.01).

"Deer are eating out our forests and preventing them from regenerating, they are a serious conservation pest and it would be crazy to class them as a game species." Sue Maturin said.

"To prevent forests from collapsing from lack of regeneration we have to reduce deer numbers to an exceedingly low level. Essentially deer populations will need to be reduced below the regeneration threshold of the most susceptible plant species"

Recreational hunters are not and can not reduce deer numbers to low enough levels to prevent the deterioration of the forests. Sue Maturin said.

"While there are no doubt many responsible deer hunters, unfortunately there is also a significant rogue element who are selfish, and irresponsible and think only of expanding their hunting opportunities." Sue Maturin said.

There is little doubt that some hunters have been actively releasing deer. There have been some 41 populations of deer released illegally over the last 15 years. The majority of these have become established in Northland, Auckland and the Waikato where deer or particular deer species have been previously absent.

The illegal liberations were especially common for sika deer and it is well known that Sika deer are particularly attractive to recreational hunters.

"The new DOC policy is a positive step forward in the protection of indigenous biodiversity. Forest and Bird welcomed the proposals of the Minister of Conservation to make it easier to hunt deer."

Ms Maturin said proposals to devolve deer management to the deer hunters should be rejected in part because it would create a "closed shop" for access to deer and make it harder to reduce deer numbers.

"Hunters will have plenty of opportunities to hunt deer, the new policy will not affect their access for hunting and conservationists want more deer killed. The more deer shot the happier we are." Sue Maturin said.

For information contact: Sue Maturin 03 477-9677ph(w) 03 4876-125(H) or 025 222- 5092 Barry Weeber 04-385-7374 or (025)622-7369.

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