A wild and fantastical view

2 May 2001

If ever your nemesis, PETA, were looking to highlight the plight of another group of small, oppressed creatures they might look no further than March's Lime Blast column. Your wild account of New Zealand's deer industry and the helicopter cowboys who allegedly charge about these Southern skies makes for riveting reading but is, however, pure fantasy and must surely have moved the entire PETA organisation to reach for an atlas. So before they get a grid reference on NZ and mobilise a campaign to close down our US$100 million deer industry perhaps you wouldn't mind telephoning them up and confessing to being a hopelessly misguided romantic. It would have been more correct for you to have observed that while New Zealand pioneered the aerial recovery of venison during the early 1970s it quickly moved into humane live helicopter capture and finally in the early 1980s onto a full and sustainable deer farming programme. Today NZ farms approximately 2.2 million head of various but unendangered species of deer and processes about 460,000 animals annually in 15 specially licensed plants. Feral animals account for less than 7% of total venison production and while PETA may initially find the concept of the helicopter hunter somewhat contrary to their ideology they can be reassured that these animals are being culled to prevent the further over grazing of our spectacular wilderness regions. You are correct though to have observed that New Zealand's feral skins are virtually entirely headshot. This being more a matter of weapon selection than marksmanship. The AK 47 is unavailable here but countries which do experience problems with bullet holes could suggest to their hunters that if they must use a machine gun they should select the single shot position for the trophy. Body armour would also seem appropriate in some cases. David Robins Tradeskins NZ Ltd

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