Feral deer over-running farms

James Pocock






Farmers in Hawke's Bay want to see a change in attitude in response to the exploding deer population. 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 two to four 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.” 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. 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. 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. 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 involved in the final consultation. The final version is expected soon.