Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Game Animal Council to keep eye on herds and hunting

Conservation Minister Nick Smith.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith.

A new Game Animal Council is to be set up to take a leading role in the management of game animals - deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs - and in improving opportunities to hunt them.

It will also come up with a code of practice to limit harassing and herding of animals for shooting from helicopters.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith said for his entire career in Parliament there had been concern from recreational hunters that they were "locked out from having an effective voice in the management of their recreation".

The new council is the baby of United Future leader Peter Dunne, and a condition of his support for the National-led Government.

Under the bill the Minister of Conservation will be able to create what will be known as "herds of special interest" for recreational hunters in a defined part of conservation land.

The council will come up with a management plan for the herd of special interest without harming biodiversity values.

Mr Dunne has described herds of special interest as a game animal herd of a particular species or sub-species in specific locations considered to have high value to hunters either because of the hunting experience or the quality of the trophy.

He has cited previously the work of the Wapiti Foundation in Fiordland which had removed more than 5000 mainly red deer from Fiordland. It had enhanced conservation values while making the wapiti trophy more valuable. The council, of nine to 11 members, will be funded by fees yet to be set by regulation for hunting any animal that is part of a herd of special interest, and export levies on game trophies to be taken out of the country.

Dr Smith said yesterday he did not agree with the polarised view that deer must be defined as "pests" and eradicated or that they were valued animals. "I come from the perspective, a pragmatic perspective, that it depends where they are and in what numbers."

- NZ Herald

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