The Game Animal Council in collaboration with the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, local landowners and recreational hunters has successfully implemented a hunter-led deer management project in the Lake Sumner Recreational Hunting Area (RHA).

The operation, which was undertaken by experienced ground-based volunteer hunters in late May 2022, removed 126 breeding hinds. This has lowered the overall size of the herd and reduced the number of fawns born later this year, limiting population growth for the next three to five years and allowing time to develop a longer-term RHA management strategy.

Local hunters, adjoining landowners, helicopter operators and other RHA users had been reporting an increase in deer numbers over recent years. Indications are that this population increase may be having an impact on native vegetation. The overall aim is to achieve a lower-density, higher-quality red deer herd that will produce better meat animals, superior trophies, a healthier habitat and good outcomes for conservation.

Volunteer hunter Tania Kiely with venison harvested. Photo: Andrew Walton

The jaw and uterus were taken from the animals harvested and will be analysed to determine the condition and reproductive status of the animals. This will provide additional data on the health of the herd and the health of the environment and help inform development of the longer-term management plan.

We want to thank DOC, NZDA (particularly the North Canterbury branch), landowners and the recreational hunters who participated. You can read more here.

Lake Sumner RHA

The Lake Sumner RHA was gazetted in 1981 to provide additional opportunities for recreational hunters in the years of strong Wild Animal Recovery Operations (WARO) and low deer numbers. It remains a popular location for red deer hunting as it has the benefit of being relatively accessible meaning that hundreds of hunters annually fly and walk into the area to hunt for both elusive trophy stags and meat animals.