Review this operation plan to eradicate red deer from Secretary Island and to test and develop methods for intensive control of deer.
Secretary Island is part of Fiordland National Park, and is 8140 hectares in size. It is a steep and rugged island, rising to 1196 m above sea level. It is separated from the mainland portion of Fiordland National Park by Thompson Sound to the east (minimum distance between the two is c 950 m), and by Doubtful Sound to the south.
Until around 1960, Secretary Island was one of the few places in New Zealand that remained free of the influence of any introduced grazing or browsing mammal. By 1975, the recently arrived but rapidly expanding deer population had already caused major damage to vegetation and soils via tracking – “spongy moss and humus over impervious granite has either been cut or damaged, leaving water gutters”.
Recent advances with deer control, pest eradications on islands, and the management of the potential for reinvasion of pests, have opened up the opportunity for effective management of island sanctuaries such as Secretary Island.
With appropriate resources and the application of a well planned, systematic and thorough programme, it is now feasible to attempt to eradicate red deer from Secretary Island and establish a programme to manage re-invasion.
Prepared by Department of Conservation staff, Dave Crouchley, Derek Brown, Kerri-Anne Edge, and Peter McMurtrie of Te Anau Area Office and Southland Conservancy.