Wild population increasing again
By the early 2000s it was uneconomic to use helicopters to harvest wild deer commercially. Feral deer numbers were again on the rise in some areas, in spite of pressure from recreational deer hunters. However, some of the big river valleys running east from the South Island main divide, which once carried large wild deer herds, have not shown major increases in numbers.
The need for control
In 2007 it appeared that a government agency, such as the Department of Conservation, would soon have to hire helicopter companies to control deer in mountain areas where the animals are damaging the fragile environment. There is likely to be much debate about this.
The deer farming industry in the early 2000s was well established and supported by Deer Industry New Zealand. It was expected to grow, although more slowly than in recent decades.
The industry needs to better balance the supply of venison and velvet antler with market requirements, to avoid its previous pattern of boom and bust. New markets have been found for venison and established markets grown. Recent reductions in the size of the national breeding herd, due to high slaughter rates, suggest that there is a ready demand for the product.
The main market for velvet antler is still South Korea. To expand into other markets, new products from velvet antler will need to be developed and shown to be effective on human health. This will be difficult and expensive.