Ecology and management of South Island beech forests: Trends in red deer (Cervus elaphus) populations in Westland forests.
- Protection Forestry Division, Forest Research Institute, Rangiora.
The major changes in the density and "well being" of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in New Zealand have been initiated either by their colonisation of new range or by subsequent intensive hunting. Deer numbers increased rapidly following their establishment in each area and usually reached "peak" densities at which food was limiting within 20 to 30 years. If they were not controlled these populations remained at high numbers for several years then declined naturally (Holloway 1950, Howard 1965). In most areas, however, deer have been extensively hunted in an effort to reduce their numbers and for a variety of other purposes, including recreation and the recovery of skins and meat (Wodzicki 1950). This has tended to keep deer populations dynamic and few if any have reached a long term balance with their habitat (see also James 1974, p.4l).