Forest and Bird Wants Fiordland’s Wapiti Herd Gone

Opinion by Tony Orman
Forest and Bird according to a recent article in the ”Southland Times” has applied for a judicial review of whether wapiti should be allowed in the Fiordland National Park.

The Fiordland National Park has an agreement allowing the Wapiti Foundation to manage deer numbers there.
Some weeks ago Nicola Toki, formerly a Department of Conservation officer and now Forest and Bird’s chief executive said the agreement between the Department off Conservation and the Wapiti Foundation does not comply with the National Parks Act 1990. Forest and Bird claimed the agreement does not comply with the Act because it allows herd management of an introduced species within the national park.

Forest and Bird’s judicial review is based on ideology rather than facts.

It shows a lack of understanding of the National Parks Act wording and an ignorance of past research which shows wapiti and deer are of no problem.

Forest and Bird have had wapiti in its sights for a considerable time as some eight months ago, Forest and Bird’s Chief executive Nicola Toki wrote to the Labour government’s  Conservation Minister Willow-Jean Prime questioning the legality of wapiti management in Fiordland, stating it was “considering its legal options”.

Now Forest and Bird have carried out its threat.

As I stated earlier (5 April) Forest and Bird don’t have a legal case against DoC’s and the Wapiti Foundation’s perfectly realistic approach to wapiti in Fiordland  The National Parks Act says “introduced plants and animals shall as far as possible be exterminated”.

The Act does not prescribe full extermination, only extermination “as far as possible.”

Ideological Ignorance

Forest and Bird seems ignorant of past research such as the highly credible 1949 New Zealand-American Fiordland expedition comprising top US and NZ scientists. The scientists concluded  “no changes of economic (and environmental) consequence (through the continued presence of deer and wapiti) can result. Large areas of forest will remain in pristine condition —despite the continued presence of deer —numbers of animals—is rigorously controlled by limited areas of good browsing range available.”

The late 1940s were when New Zealand’s deer population was regarded as reaching their peak.

A classic study of red deer at Lake Monk, Fiordland was of the wildlife populations and in particular red deer which had virtually never been hunted. There was evidence of once high numbers but Nature had reduced numbers to within the habitat’s carrying capacity.

Nicola Toki accused deer of eating vegetation alleging they “cause severe damage, threatening the integrity of the forest and alpine ecosystems.”

Moa Guilty?

Would Toki accuse browsing moa or takahe of damaging native plants and label them “browsing pests”?

Moa fossils have been found dating back almost 4 million years. Vegetation adapted to moa and other birds browsing.

Scientists Atkinson and Greenwood 1989 said moa browsing “is responsible for the evolution of at least 11 kinds of growth characteristics seen in indigenous plants. Four of these, namely spiny tussocks, mimicry, reduced visual apparency, and divarication”- are regarded as evolved defence mechanisms against browsing.

I once belonged to Forest and Bird, but because of their illogical ideology at the time, resigned.

Nicola Toki’s outburst against the wapiti herd has reaffirmed my decision was justified

Footnote: Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ Inc



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4 Responses to Forest and Bird Wants Fiordland’s Wapiti Herd Gone

  1. W. Bramble says:

    It’s amazing Forest and Bird have any credibility. Journalists and TV news just present their diatribes without researching the validity of their utterances. Politicians believe Forest and Bird without thought.

  2. Teddy Roosterveldt says:

    What a dismal, sterile place New Zealand will be if the Green zealots and F&B have their way.

  3. Lew says:

    If F&B get their way and the Wapiti take a hit they can kiss goodbye to a lot of volunteer hunters taking part in pest control not only in Fiordland but a lot of other areas as well.

  4. Jim Hilton Batchelor Science Hons Biology 1971 says:

    The New Zealand bush needs large animals like Wapiti and Red Deer to replace Moa which ate native plants, scratched up the soil and tracked New Zealand’s forests, grasslands and swamps. Forest & Bird need to read the excellent book “Moa – The Life and Death of New Zealand’s Legendary Birds” by Quinn Berentson published 2012 300 pages. When they understand how Moa impacted our Bush they will drop their Court Case otherwise they will made to look like fools by DoC’s expert witness’s.
    There has to be someone in DoC who understands the Moa story.

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