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Thread: Waro

  1. #1
    Member Dundee's Avatar
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    Waro

    A BACKGROUND TO THE WARO SAGA

    This is a bit of a long winded explanation of the rather complex issue of WARO permitting in the region.

    To help spread the word, please share it with your friends or Groups.

    DOC renewed permits for Wild Animal Recovery Operators (WARO) for commercial helicopter deer recovery recently, for all Public Conservation land (PCL) throughout NZ. Previously the process had involved consulting with the public including hunters.

    This year, no consultation was done and the process was completed in secret. DOC claimed to consult with the Game Animal Council (GAC) but in reality, no detail of planned changes was provided.

    In the lower North Island (LNI) forest parks there have been several areas excluded to WARO for recreational hunters. Any control of deer populations would be expected to be achieved through the efforts of recreational hunters.

    Areas excluded include the popular low valleys in the Tararuas (Tauherenikau, Totara Flats and Atiwhakatu/Mt Holdsworth) The Rimutaka Forest Park and Orongorongo valleys were excluded, as were all of the small reserves in the Wairarapa areas. The exclusions were introduced because of the very low deer densities and high use by hunters and also trampers. All helicopter use was restricted here because of disturbance and safety to the many trampers, family/school groups and hunters.

    In the Ruahines, about 40 percent of the forest park has been excluded to WARO since the 1990s (and the Orua since the 1970s) The remaining area in the park was excluded to WARO in the summer months, leaving deer recovery to occur only during the winter (May to November). Originally November was also excluded, but opened up by DOC. These exclusions were negotiated in the writing of the current management plan in 1993. Recreational hunters were seen as being capable of preventing deer densities from increasing to unacceptable levels (this had been shown in the Orua valley, already closed.

    The policies in the Ruahine management plan require DOC to show that hunters have not achieved “an acceptable level of control” in the areas that have had closure to helicopters, should they wish to remove the closure status.

    During the current renewal of the WARO permits, all of the Tararua and Rimutaka exclusions were removed. All of the small Wairarapa reserves were also opened to WARO.

    In the Ruahines the summer exclusion outside of the permanently Closed areas, was opened to WARO year round.

    In the Tararua/Rimutakas no justifications for opening were documented. In the Ruahines, presumed increasing deer densities were the reason given for opening, and also the need to support the diminishing WARO industry.

    Failures by DOC in the WARO renewal process are
    -failed to consult with hunters and notify the process due to effects that were not understood by DOC.
    -failed to show that deer densities are unacceptably high and therefore breached the management plan

    These changes have significant effects on recreational hunting and also trampers. They are few areas to hunt in the Tararua valleys except the grassy flats that are popular with hunters and where tramping tracks traverse. The Orongorongo valley has extreme high use and aerial deer shooting is only excluded within 200 metres of the valley floor. Many tracks crisscross the surrounding ridges. Hunting in all of these areas will decrease and hunters forced to shift into already popular excluded areas like Aorangi Forest Park (an RHA) and also the remaining Ruahine excluded areas. These areas already have very high use by hunters so the experience of all hunters is diminished.

    There are no increased benefits to conservation in these decisions and it is a mystery why they happened.

    In the Ruahines allowing spring/summer aerial deer recovery will see WARO targeting stags in velvet on the open tops, resulting in a significant decrease in stags and a consequential effect on hunters during the Roar period. Due to economics WARO only target stags and hind recovery is almost non-existent. Deterring recreational hunting in these places will see no control of hinds in the deer population. It is only reducing hinds that has any effect on maintaining deer densities to meet DOCs aims of vegetation protection. So what was regarded by DOC as changes with minor effect, actually have serious implications for recreational hunters experience and also management of the deer population.

    The Conservation Act requires DOC to consult with the public and “Notify” concessions (permit) issue publically, where there are significant or new effects. DOC Head Office in its wisdom decided that they “understood the effects of WARO” and directed the regions they did not need to Notify. The Liaison Group consider this a breach of the obligations to notify the concession renewals. Legal advice supports this view.

    DOCs own previous proposals to allow increased WARO deer recovery have highlighted that public consultation must occur if these changes are planned. The decisions made by DOC were a major change and it has been arrogant of DOC to assume that they “know the effects of WARO” and treat hunters with contempt in not consulting. The DOC criteria for deciding WARO access even stated that “hunter value of a herd was not justification to exclude WARO”. This is clearly nonsense as many areas in NZ are excluded to WARO due to hunter interest. And also because hunters are controlling deer densities adequately. This is all quite the opposite of the new partnership and “handshake with the community” that the department is promoting.

    DOC used data from previous deer density surveys (using faecal pellet counts) undertaken over the last 30 years. The official survey reports concluded for six catchments surveyed state
    “Re-measurement of the 1983 pellet lines has shown small, statistically insignificant increases for the six catchments monitored”. If anything, these surveys showed that recreational hunting has been at least as effective as WARO. Given the targeting of stags only by WARO, deer control will be even less.

    Before decisions about deer reduction are implemented, the actual effects of deer on the vegetation needs to be determined. Just the pellet frequency survey results do not tell DOC what is actually happening to the forest. DOC have not done this. To experienced hunters it is obvious that the early damage caused by deer in the 1950s has been replaced by a highly modified forest especially in the previously highly modified high beech forest and sub alpine scrub zones. While containing some palatable plant species, the forest is now mostly comprised on thick inaccessible non preferred vegetation. Research suggests that the original highly palatable species may never return.

    There is no doubt that during the heyday of WARO, large decreases in deer numbers occurred. Now WARO are not controlling the hind population and thereby not achieving any long term control of deer.

    In failing to show unacceptably high levels of deer density, DOC have breached the park management plan. This is contrary to the provisions of the Conservation Act.

    DOC have done in house proposals to allow increased WARO in the Ruahines previously. There is clearly an agenda to allow aerial deer recovery into all of these long standing areas set aside for deer management by hunters.

    There is a need to keep the deer population from increasing to high, but WARO are not achieving this. DOC need to rethink the strategy they have used for the last 25 years in relying solely on WARO.

    When the venison recovery industry is in near collapse, it would be assumed that DOC would work closer with hunters to ensure that their conservation aims are achieved.

    In participating in the Hunter Liaison Group with DOC, the group had the vision that an approach to deer management would be achieved that saw DOCs aims met and also those of hunters. The use of a targeted helicopter deer recovery was seen as part of this vision. DOC refused to participate in this process, despite understandings with Conservation Minister Peter Dunne that this would occur.
    DOC have encouraged hunters to leave negotiating improved deer management through the department renewal of their Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) for the region. We expressed concerns at the 5 yearly renewal of WARO permits would occur before the CMS process but were assured changes would be consulted through the CMS process. The result was, DOC bypassed the CMS and made changes regardless. The Liaison Group found this a breach of trust by the department. And also contrary our MOU agreement with them, of “No Surprises”.

    Led by our fearless chairman Gordon George, attempts to find out DOCs intentions during the concession review were rebuffed despite Official Information Requests. Not deterred Gordon resorted to lobbying Minister overseeing the process, Peter Dunne. With help from
    Fish-n-Hunt forum owner Alan Simmons, a meeting with him occurred. This seemed to make DOC deputy DG Mike Slater have a rethink and announce a review limited to the Ruahine WARO decision. (But not anywhere else, despite our concerns about Tararua/Rimutaka changes). Changes impacting on hunters also occurred in other areas of the country.

    Two meetings with hunting clubs have been held by DOC Palmerston North. There was a good turn out from club reps and we also had the benefit of having Gary Ottmann from the GAC come up from Christchurch for the meeting. To his credit, the DOC senior manager Mark Davies accepted full responsibility for the decisions and admitted that what he had thought were “minor” decisions were in fact “major”. Following Mikes report, DOC in Head Office are due to decide regarding retaining or reversing the decisions. Mark Davies has assured better involvement in future decisions effecting hunters. There appear to be a willingness in future to work constructively with the 14 clubs represented by the Liaison Group.

    However, the outstanding issue of the Tararua/Rimutaka/reserves changes are still unresolved. These changes are inexplicable and have no logical justification.

    Participation by clubs in the review meetings and the ongoing need to discuss how the group will challenge the decisions has been great. The Liaison Group is united in getting reversal of all recent WARO changes in the region and have engaged legal support to help negotiate with DOC. If necessary a Judicial Review with be used to undo these pointless changes. This will obviously result in a high cost and need to raise funding. And it’s a problem that never needed to have happened.

    It is clear that DOC failed to meet its obligations to consult with hunters through a Notified concession renewal process and is grounds to challenge the decision through the High Court. There is also the possibility DOC may not reverse the Ruahine changes and this will also be perused through a legal challenge. An overturn of the WARO permitting decisions may also risk all of the country wide decisions made by DOC this year, being overturned. This obviously would result in a major headache for DOC.

    In addition to this Ruahine review, Mike Slater has also promised to review all of the WARO deer recovery activity and permitting process that is satisfactory to hunters, WARO and DOC. This will begin soon and be implemented when current permits are again renewed in 3 years. Hunters throughout the country will be able to contribute to this process.

    At the same time, DOC in this region are renewing their CMS and consultation has started. As it is clear the Ruahine areas WARO are still excluded, will have the exclusions removed if DOC has its way. The CMS is where changes can be made that can further impact on hunting in the region and it is going to be a critical time for hunters to become involved. Don’t want to see loss of your hunting? Participate in the process! There are many hunters in the region, (apparently 16,000 firearms users), let alone those from outside the LNI. If they all make submissions, we might be heard.

    The Hunter Liaison Group members are looking at the option for seeking “Herd of Special Interest” (HOSI) for the Ruahines. During the earlier (unsuccessful) Liaison Group discussions with DOC, A group called the Ruahine Action Group (RAG) led by Manawatu hunter Phil Thomas promoted the concept of a WARO free Ruahines and deer management done by hunters. This resulted in meeting with Minister Peter Dunne and the expectation DOC would work jointly on future deer planning with the Liaison Group. The RAG also produced a deer management plan that had an approach that would be similar to a HOSI.

    There is the willingness by hunters to pursue this objective which will provide improved recreational hunting for the many hunters that frequent the forest park. We intend to promote this goal through the CMS process for the region. HOSI would enhance the Ruahines as a destination for hunters and with targeted WARO the deer population would be managed to the levels needed to meet the department’s conservation goals

    With 2000 hunting club members in the region and a wide catchment of interest in Ruahine hunting from around the North Island, there is a high level of hunter activity in the Ruahines. During the roar period, 2300 hunters had hunting permits for the Ruahine range. It’s obvious that hunters need to manage hunting, if the heritage of hunting on Public Conservation Land is to be preserved.
    Puffin and Frogfeatures like this.
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  2. #2
    Almost literate. veitnamcam's Avatar
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    Good to see someone trying to make sure they play by the rules.

    Sent from my SM-G800Y using Tapatalk
    "Hunting and fishing" fucking over licenced firearms owners since ages ago.

  3. #3
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    Does anyone have a link where we can find the info on the latest changes for the WARO zones?
    PERRISCICABA likes this.

 

 

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