RESEARCH AND DEVELOPEMENT
To achieve the full Trophy potential from the Wapiti Herd for hunters, a comprehensive understanding of the three key components that combine to produce the greatest trophies, is required. These are:
Top quality nutrition is the foundation of a Trophy Wapiti herd.
v HABITAT USE MONITORING via gps collar programme. Ideal animal densities can only be achieved with an understanding of the habitat areas (size and seasonal location) covered by wapiti family groups (Home Ranges).
This is being monitored via aerial live capturing using professional helicopter operators, where selected animals of good genetic makeup (wapiti type) from certain areas have been specifically targeted and fitted with GPS monitoring collars. Being very communal creatures, one Matriarch cow and one juvenile cow of the same family group are collared to establish the seasonal home range area that their family group occupies. In addition, one young bull of the same family group is collared to enable the understanding of when he leaves his family group and how far he disperses. Over time, these animals will help understand whether the bulls are seasonally migratory. This will enable a biological insight to the separate life cycles arising from female based family groups and bulls. Various seasonal ranges will establish an understanding of the competition created over the wapiti area for the essential trophy growing feed supply required and for nutrition of a healthy breeding cow component within the herd . This will educate us on the sustainability of the Wapiti Area as a basis for a trophy Wapiti herd, and will enable more accurate selection of animals (types and locations) to be left or removed in adjusting the family group sizes.
The habitat use programme is fully funded by interested Individuals and companies supporting the trophy management of the wapiti area. Opportunities to sponsor from individual GPS collars to helicopter capture time for the programme are available and welcomed. If you are keen to learn more about sponsoring this project please contact Research and Development, FWF.
v VEGETATION MONITORING via transect lines. This habitat monitoring method is being used to establish the state and trend of forest health in regard to seedling browse. This will help understand animal impacts, not only to support a healthy forest , but to also ensure the availability of nutritional feed needed for the best animal health and trophy potential possible. Plots have been monitored in the alpine zone and also the below alpine zone, and shall be re monitored at three yearly intervals. The balance between achieving good forest health and quality trophy Wapiti herd management is a win: win situation - both goals are achievable together. A healthy forest of high quality nutrition (feed) is required to let trophies develop to their full potential.
Jointly between the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation volunteers & Department of Conservation, these studies are being carried out within the Wapiti area; outside in standard WARO areas; and in areas where SDoC funded deer control is occurring. This provides a useful comparison between the different management programmes/ areas allowing DoC to quantify the benefits of these three very different management approaches in regards to their effects on forest health.
MMMM NICE RIBBON WOOD
Expressions of interest from volunteers to under take the week long vegetation monitoring programmes will be advertised when required.
Fiordland bulls reach maturity at seven to eight years of age. To understand trophy development, a solid knowledge of physical characteristics associated with a bulls age and genetic base is essential.
v The jaw
WHY? This enables accurate aging of an animal. At a herd level this information will allow a better assessment of the age structure of the bull component of the herd as a whole and enable comparisons of individual bulls with others in their applicable age classes or from different parts of the Wapiti Area.
The jaw also tells us the genetic background of the animal (percentage of Wapiti-Red Deer) enabling us to establish some true identity associated with the varying mixes. For example, some animals that are of strong wapiti genes will throw to red deer colouring but retain the markings of wapiti such as the high rump patch and short tail. Genetic information will inform animal selection criteria for leaving (Wapiti types) and removing(red types) animals during culling operations. Developing a knowledge of cow age structure is also vitally important so that the correct cows can be selectively kept or removed in the long term programme once cow numbers and family group sizes exceed the desired levels for healthy habitat and hence, a healthy herd. ( For example: cows that have past the age of good fertility and become barren, continuing to consume quality nutritional feed no longer producing calves).
v Extracting Jaw-courtesy of Allan Jackson Link to diagrams.
The whole of one side of the lower jaw is required.
v Analysing Jaw-
- Aging,via tooth development. Wapiti teeth develop seasonally until fully mouthed. Past this stage specific area's of wear are recorded and correlated with jawbone formation to represent present age.
- Ageing, via, cutting-the third premolar is extracted from the lower jaw and then split by sawing in half vertically .Half of the tooth is then taken and polished finely on the cut face ,then viewed through a microscope to exposé the growth lines of the tooth presenting the years of growth.(representing age)
- Overall jaw length and shape are recorded and calculated to establish Wapiti genes present in the specimen.
v Submitting Jaw Return
Please label jaw return bag(available with data return form at drop off point)with the same hunter details as data return and deposit into the box @
Research & Development
53 Luxmore drive
Te Anau 9600
The best trophies will come from the animals with the best genetics .
To establish an understanding of the types of bulls that are providing the greatest trophies for hunters, requires the development of a detailed data base of bulls being harvested from the wapiti area. The means of establishing this key knowledge is in the hands of the hunters taking bulls during the bugle, as these bulls are taken during the only l controlled harvest each year. Hence, the need for hunter data returns to be filled out by all hunters. Data returns for all animals taken in the wapiti area are vitally important These need to be completed as thoroughly as possible. Without any piece of the requested information, data will be unreliable.
The following Information is Required:
v Photos of your bull’s head, body and rump.
Photos of the bulls head. These will be compared against other bulls from the herd, for example, to assess/ record antler configuration and, over time, monitor changes in antler quality (improvements or declines). Attributing factors of this can be both genetic makeup and the quality of nutrition.
The photo’s of the bulls body will be evaluated as to the type of bull that has been taken and what his genes attribute to the herd as trophy status. Typically the facial features, coat colouring and markings, along with the distinctive rump patch will give us good characteristics to work with.
The photos also provide visual characteristics to identify mature Trophy bulls which will assist future trophy hunter’s assessment by reliable information from you the hunter.
Example of correct rump patch photograph capturing full rump patch, tail, markings & colourings.
v Head measurements - length ,spread and points. (DS sheet preferable - Contact FWF for your closest qualified Douglas scorer).
WHY? Recording the head measurement is the most accurate way of establishing a trophy quality history record for monitoring antler improvement and decline. This will accompany the photo of the head. Your bull will be entered into the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation records of trophy history - accessible to FWF members.
v The jaw
WHY? This enables us to accurately age the bull. Then we are better able to assess the age structure of the mature bull component of the herd as a whole and compare individual trophies with their age (Maturity); with other bulls in their applicable age classes; or to bulls from other areas Also the jaw tells us the genetic background of your trophy (percentage of Wapiti-Red Deer) enabling us to establish some true identity associated with the varying hybrids. As the data base grows the selection, criteria during the culling programme will continue to improve trophy quality across the herd.
v Area taken
WHY? This allows assessment of changes in bull quality relative to the management undertaken in different parts of the Wapiti Area, including the numbers of animals removed and the selection criteria of those animals that have been deliberately left.
The number of animals sighted may reflect on the abundance of quality nutrition available for Trophy bull development and the all-round health of the breeding cow component of the herd. These also assist in the understanding of herd densities across the entire wapiti area and can be used to put vegetation impacts into the context of wider animal density .
The number of animals taken by recreational hunters contributes significantly to the annual kill return data from the wapiti area enabling a more accurate estimate of annual harvest. Monitoring harvest is essential for ensuring appropriate herd density and n a truly sustainable trophy herd.
If you have a bull to report please down load this form HUNTER DATA RETURN and forward to one of the listed addresses on the return form.
Thanks for your help in developing the Trophy potential of the wapiti herd for hunters in Fiordland.