Stalkers in casualty hunt call

Dead deer: Found in the Dart Valley area after a 1080 drop PICTURE: DEERSTALKERS ASSOCIATION

A dead deer has been found by a hunter following a 1080 poison drop in the Dart, Routeburn and Caples Valleys.

It has prompted Southern Lakes New Zealand Deerstalkers Association to hold a grid search tomorrow to do a death tally.

Secretary Sharon Salmons isn’t pointing the finger at the Department of Conservation, which carried out the controversial drop.

But she says tests will be carried out to see if the animal died from the poison-laced pellets.

“It has got to be tested and I don’t want to accuse anyone in case it died of old age – but it didn’t look like an old animal.”

The hunting group previously locked horns with DoC to ensure deer repellent was included to safeguard the local whitetail deer population.

It was, but Queenstown DoC boss Geoff Owen says its use may not “entirely” prevent all deaths.

While Owen says whitetail deer aren’t the target, and it’s hoped by-kill is minimal, he stresses the importance of using 1080 to protect local populations of threatened birds such as the blue duck (whio) and yellowhead (mohua).

Salmons says the grid search is important: “We need to see if the repellent worked.”

the intended targets of the Battle for Our Birds campaign – rats, stoats, mice and possums.

Drops of the pesticide took place in the Dart, Routeburn and Caples on October 21.

DoC is keeping an eye on the area, including research by Lincoln University student Kaylyn McBrearty.

The aim is to show the effect of 1080 operations on whitetail deer in the Dart Valley, which DoC will then consider.

The Deerstalkers’ post-1080 grid search will start from the Routeburn Track carpark, near Glenorchy, from 9am tomorrow.

Volunteers with backcountry experience welcome and pre-registration required.