• Nick Smith

The Minister of Conservation, Nick Smith, today released the Department of Conservation's paper on Issues and options for managing the impacts of deer on native forests and other ecosystems. Mr Smith said he was keen for deer hunters to have a greater role in managing their own sport.

"Deer are a major threat to New Zealand's natural heritage and their numbers must be controlled. I am keen to encourage and involve recreational hunters to have a greater degree of management of the sport. The Fish and Game model has proved very successful with respect to trout and game birds, and I am keen to explore the extension of this model to include deer".

Currently the Fish and Game Council undertakes the issuing of licences and controlling trout and game bird numbers, whereas the Department of Conservation is responsible for issuing and managing recreational hunting permits.

"The model for deer hunters needs to be developed very carefully. We need to ensure that barriers to hunting are minimised and that the ecological health of our forests is not compromised. The Department of Conservation must retain its ability to administer complimentary deer control where recreational hunting is insufficient to prevent damage to indigenous forest regrowth from deer browsing. However, I believe we can find the right balance, and involve hunters more in deer control".

Public submissions on The Issues and Options for managing the impacts of deer on native forests and other ecosystems close on 2 March 1998. These submissions will then form the basis of the National Deer Control Plan, which will be completed next year.