I’d like to start this editorial by acknowledging all our advocacy groups and the hard work they’re doing on our behalf. In particular, I’d like to focus on the Sika Foundation, because they’ve had a great deal of success working with the Department of Conservation on several projects such as trapping and whio/blue duck protection programs.
The Whio Recovery Project should be held up as an example to New Zealand of how hunters are not the enemies of conservation. The project is a collaboration between the Department of Conservation, the Sika Foundation, Poronui Station and Helisika; it’s achieved considerable success by enabling better access for Goodnature traplines to be laid and checked.
We, as a community, are incredibly passionate about striking a balance between preserving our native animals and protecting our valuable game animals.
The Sika Foundation has also introduced Management Hunts where the foundation provides cheap helicopter rides into the Kaimanawa and Kaweka forest parks. Not only are the prices very cheap, but they’ve also brokered a few extra landing zones, opening up previously hard-to-hunt areas.
The capture of data, including jaw bones, helps to build a better picture of animal numbers; this data can be used to help conservation efforts. Hunters make far better allies than enemies, and I hope examples like the Whio Recovery Project, trapping initiatives and the management hunts can be a blueprint for a better, more cooperative, future for us all.
With the short winter days behind us at this time of year, the hunting starts to improve … with the increased movement of animals in search of the fresh, nutrient-rich new spring/summer growth. In general, most mature stags have dropped their antlers, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. I remember my father taking a genuinely nice 8-point sika stag in November, and as we manoeuvred it for dressing out, the antlers came away in his hands!
In any case, with the abundance of feed available, the condition of animals improves – and so does the meat quality – it’s a great time to hunt!
On a wider note, this is not just about firearms and game animals – this is about a governmental mentality that believes it can destroy people’s livelihoods by excessive culling of tahr without conducting an economic impact study as to the effects on the industry. It’s about a government who disregards our rights and introduces unjust laws that don’t target the people they’re supposed to. This election is a battle for those who value freedom and the right to conduct our pastimes without undue government regulation and overreach.