The Sika Foundation is working with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research on a project designed to compare the effectiveness of faecal pellet counting with camera monitoring to assess deer density using a trail camera survey.
In December 2019, a team of five Sika Foundation volunteers went into the Kaimanawa Rangitikei Remote Experience Zone (REZ) and set up 80 cameras to start the project.
Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research supplied aerial assistance from their helicopter which was in the area carrying out work on the deer survey project for OSPRI, to ferry the team in and out of the REZ to enable our members to deploy the cameras. Landcare also supplied cameras and other equipment to help us set up the project.
In February two Sika Foundation volunteers went back in to the area with the DOC Biodiversity Monitoring team to help pick up the cameras while the DOC team carried out the faecal pellet counting.
Landcare has analysed the 52,287 photos collected, and entered the data in a spreadsheet. Now it’s up to the modellers to see if they can get a correlation between the deer photos and pellet line indices. Hopefully there were enough deer visits to be useful, but time will tell.
The deer images do show that the deer are small and in light to poor condition. Many of the hinds look old and there were not that many fawns evident, indicating this part of the herd is still in a bit of trouble. Click here to see the photos
Further reductions in hind numbers will be required to improve the habitat and increase herd quality.
Also of note was that kiwi were photographed at two camera sites near Ecology Stream and there were a couple of possible bat sightings, but the jury is still out on those. Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research will make the results available to us when complete.