New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1991) 15(1): 31- 40

Official Hunting Patterns, and Trends in the Proportions of Sika (Cervus nippon) and Red Deer (C. elaphus scoticus) in the Kaweka Range, New Zealand, 1958-1988

Research Article
M. M. Davidson 1
K. W. Fraser 2,*
  1. 20 Seaview Terrace, Leigh, R.D. 5, Warkworth, New Zealand
  2. Forest Research Institute Christchurch, P.O. Box 31-011, Christchurch, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Records of official deer control operations in the Kaweka Range between 1958 and 1988 have been used to describe the pattern of official hunting, to indicate changes in hunting efficiency, and to show trends in the proportions of sika and red deer in sympatric populations. The pattern of hunting largely reflected wild animal control priorities, and to some extent the resources available. Whereas hunting effort was concentrated in Block 1 (of three) during the 1960s to protect catchment values, changes in the rationale for wild animal control and the efforts of commercial and recreational hunters in the more accessible areas led to a more even spread of the hunting effort from the early 1970s. Hunting efficiency also varied between the three h unting blocks, probably reflecting differences in the ease with which particular habitats could be hunted. A decline in hunting efficiency over the study period was interpreted as an overall decrease in the density of the deer population. The proportion of sika among the deer shot in the Kaweka Range has increased steadily from about 10-20% in the early 1960s to 70% in 1987-88. A competitive advantage over red deer because of their different digestive physiology is suggested as the main reason. The most rapid increases in the proportion of sika were associated with two Peaks in commercial venison and live-capture operations that concentrated on red deer, indicating that commercial hunting has also been a factor. It is likely that sika will continue icreasing in proportion to red deer in areas already inhabited. In addition, sika will probably continue to disperse into new areas as they competitively displace red deer.