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Deer eat grass, not wood, Deerstalkers remind DOC
20 December 2006

Media Release

Deer eat grass, not wood, Deerstalkers remind DOC

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association has rubbished Department of Conservation (DOC) claims that wild deer are a major cause of climate change in New Zealand. Newly appointed Director General Al Morrison, who has no conservation background, claimed this week that deer mow the forest understorey bald, and that wiping them out would help store more carbon in native forests.

“Deer are selective browsers and prefer grasses and soft palatable species” Deerstalkers Association spokesman Dr Hugh Barr said. “They are not wood eaters, as Al implies. Wood is where most of the carbon in forests is stored. In any case deer are at such low densities on public conservation land that their browsing impact is hardly noticeable in many areas.”

“We have asked to see DOC’s research proving these weird carbon storing claims, but have had no response” Dr Barr said. “Claims about storing carbon need accurate scientific verification. If anything mows the vegetation bald it is sheep and cattle. There are many times more of these in New Zealand than wild deer. Is DOC suggesting New Zealand abandon its pastoral industries too?”

“The Deerstalkers’ Association has been working with DOC to assist harvesting deer where deer are at high densities, and will continue to do so” Dr Barr said.

“We are disappointed that, as DOC’s new Director General Al Morrison is continuing the deer bashing dogma of his recently departed predecessor. Deerstalkers were hoping Al might move DOC away from dogma to become a more inclusive science based and research based department when it comes to managing wild deer. Apparently Al still sees his job as a political spin doctor.”


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