New online resource focuses on hunters' impact on habitat

A new online resource is aiming to improve hunters' game animal management practices, by educating them about what animals to target in order to better protect the environment.

Launched by the Game Animal Council (GAC), the resource - called "Looking After Our Game Animals" - shares information about how deer, tahr and chamois herds work, and how the choices hunters make can impact those herds.

The resource focuses on various key aspects of game management, including the importance of habitat, how male and female game animals play a different role in the herd and have a different impact on the environment, and how by targeting more females hunters can achieve "better quality herds in a healthier habitat".

GAC general manager Tim Gale says many hunters are already aware there are some deer herds in certain parts of the country with too many animals.

"What this means is a decline in the health of the ecosystem, poor quality animals and poor hunting," he says.

By targeting the "right animals at the right time", Gale says hunters can play a role in maintaining healthy herd balances, and help keep populations down, which subsequently creates a "healthier ecosystem".

"From a management point of view harvesting breeding age and yearling females is extremely effective as it removes their subsequent offspring and provides a healthier habitat for the development of both trophy-class males and quality meat animals. 

"Harvesting an immature male, on the other hand, only removes one animal from the herd and prevents it from developing to its full potential. This won’t improve the quality of the herd or the health of the ecosystem."

He said if hunters can learn to apply these game animal management practices it would lead to a "win-win" situation for hunting and conservation.