Just got back from a couple of weeks in NZ. No hunting unfortunately, but spoke with many people who did hunt and quite a few from the DoE as we toured the various parks.
The hot topic seemed to be use of a poison called 1080 out there to control the rats, stoats and possums which are mullering the bird population between them. The pellets are broadcast across the bush by helicopter.
Their problem is that these vermin are taking ground and tree nesting birds, including the Kiwi. Bird numbers are dropping quickly and vermin numbers are growing at an equivalent pace. The balance is all adrift.
The big problem they are now faced with is that the 1080 is causing secondary poisoning to dogs and raptors - mainly Harrier Hawks. The RSPB equivalent out there is up in arms as well as most of the dog owners - unsurprisingly. Lots of "BAN 1080" signs displayed on the road side and in gardens.
They are experimenting with tunnel trapping in some areas. One guy I spoke to from the DoE said that he had laid 180 tunnels without traps but with tracers in them. After just 2 weeks 95% had stoat tracks through them. It was over an area of just 100 acres.
When I first heard what they were up to I was pretty horrified. Imagine doing that in the UK.
But as you drove up through South Island and saw the scale of the country and the forests you quickly realised that trapping just wasn't an option. The place is too big and they do not have estates with keepers like we do to manage it, it's a small DoE workforce who are responsible for looking after it all.
So their option is either to let nature run its course and loose much of their bird population, including their beloved Kiwi, or try to slow it down with something as drastic as 1080. The devil or the dark blue sea.
A very interesting problem to have to deal with.