Deer Buyers Blamed for Freeze on Feral Trade

Government Media Release

3 May 2002

Commercial deer hunters have only their own industry's buyers to blame for a freeze on the trade in feral venison, Parliament's primary production committee says.

The committee said last night that it appeared that any decision to halt the processing of feral deer for export meat -- an important source of revenue to helicopter companies and hunters in some regions -- has been taken by the companies themselves. The committee yesterday received a briefing from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) after being told there was a belief in the deer industry that a moratorium had been imposed by the minister on the processing of feral deer.

``There is, currently no moratorium,'' committee chairman Damien O'Connor said in a statement, after the briefing. MAF had made it clear that hunters and processors were entitled to continue to carry out their legitimate business.

``No legitimate operator is being prevented from processing feral deer,'' he said. ``We were told by MAF this has been made very clear to the processors.''

Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said last month he was looking at banning future exports of venison from feral deer after high-profile poaching cases raised concerns that some commercial hunters may be selling for export carcasses of deer shot in areas where possums were being poisoned. Mr Sutton said feral meat from carcasses sold by those hunters was being tested for a number of substances, not just 1080 residues.

But since his announcement, one of the country's biggest venison processors, Mair Venison Ltd, which operates processing plants in Kennington (near Invercargill) and Hokitika, has stopped buying wild venison. At Venison Rotorua Ltd -- formerly Mair Venison Ltd -- general manager Tony Dellar said venison from feral animals had not been recalled from his company for testing, though it produced about 80 percent of the North Island's ``wild'' venison production. 

``We have stopped buying it, not because of poison (scares), but because of the suggestion by the Agriculture Minister,'' he said. Mr O'Connor said Mr Sutton had asked MAF staff to report on the possibility of a moratorium after some North Island commercial hunters were charged with illegal hunting. 

MAF had required feral venison meat that was supplied by those hunters to be withdrawn from the market. Export certification for the venison from the feral deer supplied by those hunters charged with illegal hunting had also been withdrawn.'' The withdrawn feral venison was under MAF supervision and being tested for chemical residues, though analysis of those tests had not yet started. the feral meat would remain under MAF until the analysis was finished and decisions had been made on what should be done with the meat. 

The hunters charged with illegal hunting had been placed on a ``suspect list'' and all licensed processors advised of this. ``This means that the hunters charged with illegal hunting may continue to supply feral deer, subject to the standard increased sampling applied to suspect lines,'' Mr O'Conner said. But beyond the feral meat implicated in the investigations, and the increased residue testing applied to the suspect hunters, "there is at this point in time no restriction on processing feral venison meat".



Last Updated: 07 October 2010

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