Further context about WARO and the process.

Background of Wild Animal Recovery Operations (WARO)

Nationally, the presence of deer is increasing across public conservation land.

This means more control effort is needed to protect native vegetation from deer.

WARO is a key tool, alongside recreational hunting, to control deer on public conservation land.

New national WARO concession

A WARO concession is needed any time an aircraft is used commercially on public conservation land to search for, shoot or recover wild animals (or parts of wild animals).

DOC is working to establish a new national WARO concession based on an approved schedule of public conservation land. Determining WARO access over that land is a significant step.

Production of a new national WARO concession does not include a publicly notified process. However, DOC invites comment from key public conservation land users to help inform its decision making on the extent of WARO land access.

A decision on WARO land access will be made in response to a report of recommendations in the autumn of 2022. Wording of the new national WARO concession will also be considered for approval and concessions offered to operators soon after.

Interim national WARO concessions have been issued to eligible operators to allow continuity of WARO activity from the expiry of the 2015-2018 national WARO concession until a new concession can be issued.

How we decide which land should be open to WARO

The overriding legislation for WARO concessions is the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. DOC also has a Policy Statement on Deer Control. Both require deer on public conservation land to be controlled to protect the land’s natural values. The Deer Control Policy states, “commercial and recreational hunters will generally have open access to public conservation land”.

While taking into account the effects on other users, the role of persons engaged in hunting for recreation and the purpose of the land, legislation and policy mean that DOC’s over-riding concern is the protection of indigenous biodiversity. WARO helps achieve this and is why some submission requests to restrict WARO have not been accepted.

Effects on other users can, in most instances, be managed by permit conditions such as the WARO exclusion periods over Christmas, Easter and the deer roar.

Where there is a conflicting land use (such as a grazing concession) or very high year-round public use area (e.g. Otago Central Rail Trail) it is appropriate to prohibit WARO access.

More context

Why we need to control deer

Deer eat native vegetation and they target their favourite species, such as Broadleaf, preventing regeneration. This can cause significant changes to the structure and composition of native ecosystems.

How DOC considered the June/July 2018 and December 2018/February 2019 feedback from stakeholders

Districts and regions considered location-specific feedback and provided comments on these to a national panel. Feedback was assessed against the Wild Animal Control Act, Deer Control Policy, other legislation and relevant statutory planning documents. The national panel made revised recommendations based on all this information. For many locations, the feedback received wasn’t consistent with the legislation or deer control policy and so couldn’t be accepted.

Who is the national panel

This is made up of DOC staff from Legal, Technical – threats and Permissions (concessions).

Why run another round of consultation

When DOC began consultation, we informed stakeholders we would seek further feedback where land recommendations changed or new land was added. Recommendations made available for feedback during the December 2018/February 2019 consultation only went to June/July 2018 submitters. DOC now wants to give all potentially affected stakeholders a final chance to have their say on the changes proposed during the December 2018/February 2019 consultation and some other amendments made recently.

Recommendations allow for recreational hunter effort

DOC needs both recreational hunters and WARO to control wild animals. In general terms, both are also required by legislation (but depending on the land classification) and Deer Control Policy. History has shown if WARO is completely excluded, deer numbers generally increase.

Recreational hunter effort is taken into account by having (as a minimum) WARO exclusion periods during Christmas, the Roar, and Easter, and by having some areas where WARO is excluded year-round.

Why feedback limited to places only which have changed

The purpose of consultation is to ensure we have feedback on the land recommendations to better inform the decision. Where recommendations have not changed, we do not need additional feedback. That said, we also need more feedback from stakeholders that were unable to make submissions during the December 2018/February 2019 consultation period.

What we'll do with further feedback

Further feedback will be considered and assessed against the Wild Animal Control Act, Deer Control Policy, other relevant legislation and statutory plans. Recommendations will then be finalised before going to the decision-maker (the Director Planning, Permissions & Land).

How this process relate to the tahr control operation

Tahr are not included in the national WARO concession. They are managed under the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993 (HTCP). Any aerial shooting of tahr must be consistent with the Wild Animal Control Act and the HTCP. Separate authorisations are required for commercial aerial control of tahr.

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