The Government is investing $700,000 into training recreational deer hunters in a bid to keep deer numbers down and protect New Zealand’s forests.
The money comes from a $34 million allocation under the Jobs for Nature programme. There were 48 other successful projects in the programme’s latest round out of 400 applications.
It’s the most government money recreational hunting has ever been given.
Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says it’s an “exciting” partnership between the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the hunting community.
“They are going to be providing 14 jobs to basically train and upskill newer hunters in particular,” she says.
The Game Animal Council will run an online training programme and the NZ Deerstalkers Association will teach the practical skills.
“This is the first time the deerstalkers have had a significant amount of funding,” NZ Deerstalkers Association CEO Gwyn Thurlow says.
Just a few months ago, hunters were at loggerheads with DoC over the culling of tahr. But this latest partnership is encouraging.
“It’s long overdue. New Zealand hunters have contributed a lot to our biodiversity outcomes, they’re high users of public lands and forests,” Thurlow adds.
New Zealand’s forests will be under threat if deer numbers continue to increase.
“We’re all in agreeance there are too many deer. We need more hunters to get out there and control the deer,” says Forest and Bird’s Canterbury/West Coast regional conservation manager Nicky Snoyink.
For keen hunters like Logan Munro, the funding provides an opportunity to upskill, while also contributing to conservation and filling the freezer at the same time.
“You learn a lot off friends and family, videos and books, online lots of info out there,” he says.
But he also believes there’s room for improvement, regardless of skill level.