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Deerstalkers Join Programme To Feed Needy Families

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) is delighted to support an initiative to feed needy families with tonnes of prime wild venison harvested in Fiordland.

The meat comes from hundreds of deer culled in Fiordland National Park as part of the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation’s highly successful management of the Wapiti Area within the park.

The Wapiti Foundation, Game Animal Council, NZDA, DoC and commercial helicopter hunters have joined forces to process and transport the wild venison to New Zealanders in need.

NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow says the initiative will see around 18 tonnes of meat donated to needy families around the country.

“The Covid emergency has cost people jobs and left families struggling to make ends meet. Hunters have recognised the tough times their fellow kiwis are facing and have got stuck in to provide them with high quality venison,” Gwyn Thurlow says.

Mr Thurlow says the meat is a top quality, sustainably harvested product which would normally not be made available to Kiwi families and could be a way forward in the future.

“Hunters know the value of game herds and the virtues of our wild venison. In this case the deer are being professionally processed through a certified export standard processing facility and packed into one kilogram parcels of mincemeat.

“One pack will feed a family of four and they are being distributed to foodbanks and other needy people throughout the country,” he says.

Gwyn Thurlow says many NZDA branches in the North Island and South Island are helping pay for the distribution.

“I am enormously proud of our branches who have responded to the call to help get this venison to the people who need it. Our NZDA members are generously footing the bill to transport tonnes of meat to their regions and give it to foodbanks,” he says.

“Not only is this fantastic initiative feeding families in need, it is keeping dozens of people in jobs, including helicopter crews, meat processors and transport and logistics staff.

“This generosity and willingness to step up and lend a helping hand is a great example of the New Zealand spirit.”

Wapiti – or elk as they are also known in North America - are a large member of the deer family.

The species was gifted to New Zealand by US President Teddy Roosevelt and introduced to Fiordland more than a century ago.

They are now the only wild wapiti herd in the Southern Hemisphere.

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