The GAC and many others are of the view that that the current regime for managing wild animal recovery operations is not working for the industry, recreational hunting or, conservation.

Wild animal recovery concessions provide a valuable method for the Department of Conservation to utilise commercial opportunities to provide pest management services with no direct cost to the Department. There are, of course, costs of managing the concessions.

Wild animal recovery operators obtain access to a valuable resource through the concessions. Costs of killing wild animals, costs of managing carcasses pre-sale, and the revenue earned from sale of carcasses, driven by produce prices determine, in part, industry viability. Diminished WARO viability has the potential to deliver negative environmental outcomes if reductions in harvests of wild animals result in population increases that adversely affect the conservation estate. High deer populations in an area can also lead to lower carcass weights which in turn make recovery of the carcases unviable. Representatives of the industry and the Department have recently expressed concerns about continued WARO industry viability.

In the absence of a comprehensive management system the concession document is a de facto management document – something it was never intended to be. This makes it overly cumbersome, inflexible and not fit for purpose. The current review of concessions for the recovery of wild game animals is not addressing the fundamental issue of how to enhance benefits to conservation whilst maintaining a viable game animal control industry, taking into account other users of the resource including recreational hunting, guided hunting, game estates and the deer farming industry.

The GAC’s preference is that WARO operators, processors, the guided hunting sector, the GAC, the recreational hunting sector and DOC all need to get together to identify the issues surrounding the sustainable commercial harvest of game animals on public conservation land and evaluate options for managing the harvest going forward.

The Game Animal Council will continue to advocate for a comprehensive review of how WARO is managed on public land.


The Council delivered the AATH Code of Practice (COP) to the Minister of Conservation. The Department of Conservation has advised that the AATH COP prepared by GAC is incorporated as part of the new concession practice.