In July 2015, the Department heard from New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) members and the Game Animal Council (GAC) concerns around WARO access in the Ruahines (Ruahine Forest Park).
The Department undertook to review the situation in the Ruahines, working with those most closely involved to see whether it could identify an outcome that better meets the needs of all interested parties. The review of the Ruahine situation was to focus on the content of the conditions in the national WARO permit that relate to where and when WARO activity can occur in the Ruahines.
The engagement process for the Ruahine review has involved representatives from recreational hunters (including the GAC) and WARO operators.
An Officers report, including the findings of the engagement report and an in-depth reassessment of the statutory provisions for the Ruahines, has been prepared and provided to the decision maker for this review.
The Department has reached a mutual agreement with the two operators who primarily operate in the Ruahines to vary their NI WARO permits by returning it to the 2009 restrictions, i.e. WARO may occur only during the period from 1 May to 30 November inclusive.
In addition, where monitoring shows a need for targeted wild animal control in specified places of the Ruahines, the Department has committed to allowing these two operators the opportunity to undertake WARO activity in those specified places for specified (short-term) periods. This additional control, if required, will not extend into the current prohibited “helicopter-free” parts of the Ruahines.
A decision has now been made where the Department will seek to negotiate with the remaining three current permit holders to vary their current permit to change the dates to where WARO may take place in the Ruahines to 1 May–30 November, noting that these WARO operators do not currently operate in the Ruahines. Any new applicants for NI WARO permits during the current term (expiring on 30 June 2018) will also be subject to the restricted season in the Ruahines. The decision has been made in the context of the additional information provided (during the engagement process) whilst acknowledging there remain issues with regard to the residual deer population in the Ruahines that will be assessed through a monitoring programme.
The Department will put the documentation on the website in the new year, and will separately advise when the agreed changes to the permits have been made.
Separate to this process, the Department is currently drawing up the terms of reference for the wider sector conversation with operators, processors, the guided hunting sector, the GAC and the recreational hunting sector to look at a more long-term sustainable future for management of wild animal recovery in New Zealand (on public conservation land). This will ensure all users’ needs are recognised and accommodated in a manner that is acceptable to all parties. This will provide a certainty of approach that can then be taken into the next permit review when the 2015 WARO permits expire in 2018.
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