FOUNDATION FINDS FAULTS
AND FAILURES IN MINISTER'S DECISION
The Sambar Deer Management Foundation is very disappointed with the decision of the Minister of Conservation, to completely remove gazetted regulations controlling the hunting of sambar deer.
The Foundation firmly believes controlled management under modified regulations, is a more sustainable option for dealing with sambar problems on production lands, while still maintaining these unique, highly valued animals.
Members see this decision as little more than an ideological confirmation of DOC's deer policy statement, made with little regard to the five-year consultation process, the Foundation itself called for in 2002.
Officers of SDMF, have begun polling the wider membership on its view of the future, and will dedicate the monthly committee meeting in May to considering a formal operational response to the proposed lifting of the moratorium.
"We will listen to our members' views before deciding on future action or entering into structured discussions with any other party", says secretary Ian Fitchett, who is collecting postal and email feedback from members across the country.
The Foundation acknowledges DOC's intention to engage in discussions with members, but expects the Foundation will have several firm and non-negotiable ideas, which will hopefully constitute the basis of future permitting and monitoring arrangements on DOC land, and other public lands.
Foundation chairman, Colin Harold, finds the Ministers decision puzzling, given current government moves to address game management in general.
"I'm frankly mystified, that the Government has just allocated a substantial sum of public money to the United Future Party's Deer, Chamois, Tahr and Pigs Consultation Panel, and has then decided to remove, rather than modify, a working game management model. Game management is the best way to go for all species in New Zealand, and we had a working system that only needed a relaxation of some rules to allow it to work even better", Colin says.
Over the past 14 years the Foundation's volunteer monitors have put in thousands of hours of their personal time and tens of thousands of kilometres of driving, around Crown-licenced forests, to assist hunters.
"They did this," says Ian Fitchett, "to help the hunters, most of whom are very grateful, and to help protect and maintain the sambar herd."
Mr Fitchett believes it is unlikely monitors will be helping hunters and land-owners, throughout an unlimited hunting season each year, and he believes many members will be unwilling to help land-owners who seek to wilfully destroy the sambar resource.
"Monitors were not out in the forest for just the six weeks of the season, but lots of other times; learning the deer's habits and assessing population health. These people gave this time freely because they believed in game management, not unmanaged culling", he says.
The Foundation observes that the Minister's decision fails to reflect important trends of opinion, which emerged from the two rounds of consultation, held in 2005 and 2006. It seems to committee members that Chris Carter has pandered to an unruly, overly vocal minority within the farm forestry community in particular, and has ignored the 30% of land-owners who strongly opposed total removal of protection, in last year's consultation.
It also notes that this decision fails to account for the views of 63% of land-owning submitters to the first public consultation of 2005, who supported management under a more flexible regime. Furthermore, this decision does not reflect the aspirations of a total of 93% of all submitters to the 2005 process, who wanted changes, but who did not endorse total removal of protection.
The Foundation expects to begin tentative talks with DOC, forestry interests, and Federated Farmers, some time in May.
For more information please contact:
Ph 06 345 7329 (hm)
021 361 300 (mob).
ph 06 354 7879 (wk)
0274 495 180 (mob)
Ph: 04 970 4488 (wk).