At the time of writing, the Lake Sumner RHA has become subject to a collaborative culling operation partnered with the Department of Conservation, the Game Animal Council and the NZ Deerstalkers Association. This initiative saw experienced and qualified recreational hunters sent into the area to target a reduction in hinds, which has several benefits. With fewer breeding females, it’ll reduce the population as well as allow the native flora and fauna to regenerate. With better quality food, potentially, the quality of the stags will improve. Additionally, with more stags and fewer hinds, competition for mating rights over the Rut period will be more intense and lead to only the better-quality stags being able to mate. Over the operational period, 126 breeding hinds were culled; jaws and uteruses were taken, which will be analysed to determine the condition and reproductive status of the animals. This will further help to determine the health of the herd and the environment.
Despite the legislative changes that will impact shooting clubs and organisations, good ground is being made in the areas previously stated. Community-led partnerships like this will hopefully become the standard. With store-bought meat at ridiculous prices, hunting has an even bigger part to play in many Kiwi families.
This, coupled with the Sika and Tahr Foundations’ efforts in their areas, represents a massive leap forward for the vindication of hunters’ rights in balance with the ecosystem in New Zealand. With the Game Animal Council and the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners providing the link between the Government and our community of hunters and firearms owners, we’ve made a massive amount of progress – these initiatives prove that. Where this leads to, hopefully, is an eventual legislative recognition of the importance and cultural significance of New Zealand’s game animals. A piece of legislation that balances our native ecosystem with the huge benefit of our valued introduced species might be overly optimistic; however, it’s an admirable goal to have. What a day that will be if it comes to fruition.