Pause in Wapiti Legal Action a Win for Fiordland

Special report

The Game Animal Council has welcomed an agreement between Forest and Bird and the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation to pause legal proceedings over the management of wapiti deer in Fiordland National Park.  

“Notification that the parties have asked the High Court to adjourn legal proceedings is really positive news for hunters and all those interested in the conservation of Fiordland National Park,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale.

“The Game Animal Council looks forward to working with the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation, the Department of Conservation and other stakeholders to advance work on a Herd of Special Interest for wapiti in Fiordland.”

“A Herd of Special Interest for wapiti would provide the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation with the long-term certainty to continue and, where possible, 

expand their deer management, predator control and other conservation efforts,” says Tim Gale.

SQ Jim Kea.jpeg

Footnote:-In late April, CORANZ ran an opinion piece as follows:-

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.”

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.”

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4 Responses to Pause in Wapiti Legal Action a Win for Fiordland

  1. Thomas Carkeek says:

    I once belonged to Forest and Bird and resigned as they were getting to ideological. Now I think they’re worse than then and “then” was 40 years ago. Why does the media give Forest and Bird so much space?

  2. Lew says:

    I was a F&B member many years ago as well and resigned when they supported 1080 poison. They are pissing off many people who are putting in so much time and effort towards predator control, it would be F&Bs loss if they continue piss off the volunteers who work in these hard to get to areas.

  3. Jim Hilton Batchelor Science Hons Biology 1971 says:

    I too was once a member of Forest & Bird. I enjoyed their evening meetings at the Canterbury Museum and field trips around the Canterbury foothills. Forest & Bird lost its way when it was taken over by the Maruia Society and corporatised.
    Now its prime function is to raise enough money to support its head office in Wellington. Supporting the use 1080 poison has been its number 1 mistake. Maybe they have dropped their threat of Court Action about Wapiti in Fiordland National Park because head office have finally realised that large browsing animals like Wapiti and other deer species are vital for keeping our native vegetation healthy and in the same natural state it was in before humans arrived. That’s because large Moa birds, as heavy as deer, ate massive amounts of foliage as well as trampling our native plants and making tracks for smaller flightless bird species to get easily from one place to another. That’s fact, that’s science. I doubt Forest & Bird can convince the Courts that Moa didn’t exist and that Moa had a different impact on our forests and grasslands than deer.

  4. Charles Baycroft says:

    So, introduced species shall as far as possible be exterminated.
    Some people would say that anything conceived of can become possible
    Much of what is common today was considered impossible not that long ago.
    The elites involved in the predator free ambition admitted that it was most likely impossible but should be implemented regardless of the costs or likely outcomes.

    There is a minority of politically influential people in New Zealand that want all the free living introduced species eradicated at any cost to the rest of the people.

    These people are extremists whose propaganda “justifies” any means of achieving their ambition.

    This extremist minority has far more political influence than the rest of the people that are apolitical and ignorant of how the political system works for the benefit of the influential minority.

    Whatever this hatred of “introduced species” is really about is difficult to understand but also unlikely to stop unless more rational and practical people gain more political influence.

    That seems unlikely

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