New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1989) 12: 33- 46

The Impact of 3 Deer Hunting Regimes in Northeastern Fiordland

Research Article
G. Nugent  
P. Sweetapple  
  1. Forest Research Institute, P.O. Box 31-011, Christchurch, New Zealand

In late 1986 an official deer hunting regime in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland, was compared with two commerical aerial hunting regimes in the adjacent Stuart Mountains by measuring the density of deer faecal pellet groups. Overall densities in the Stuart Mountains were twice those in the Murchison Mountains. Official hunting appeared to be more effective than commercial hunting at reducing and controlling deer densities in heavily forested catchments, but not in catchments with less extensive forest cover. The deer density in individual catchments was determined primarily by the extent of forest cover, which controlled the vulnerability of deer to aerial hunting. The presence of the protected wapiti (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) in the northern Stuart Mountains resulted in higher deer densities, when differences in deer vulnerability between catchments were taken into account, than in the southern Stuart Mountains where there are only red deer (Cervus elaphus scoticus). The restriction on the commercial harvesting of wapiti appears to have increased the proportion of wapiti-like deer in some catchments in the Stuart Mountains. Normal commercial hunting may provide the same level of deer control as official hunting for the management of takahe (Notornis mantelli) in some of the catchments studied, assuming 1986 economic conditions and hunter skills.