2 July 2020: The NZCA strongly supports the Department of Conservation’s Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020-2021, and gives full support to the implementation National Parks Act’s policy of extermination of tahr, as far as possible, from the Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.

Edward Ellison, Chair of the NZCA, says “Every New Zealander has an obligation to future generations and to Papatūānuku, to ensure national parks fulfil their purpose; to protect, in perpetuity, their unique natural features. The objective to preserve these areas of natural beauty is indisputably in the national interest and at constant risk of being eroded.”

“The NZCA has participated in the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group meetings over the last two years, along with many hunting groups and other parties. We have been extensively briefed on the expansion in the range of tahr, and the large increase in numbers of tahr to at least 3 to 4 times the agreed maximum population of 10,000 in the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993 (HTCP).”

“The Department has repeatedly signalled its intent since 2018 that it intends to reduce tahr numbers back to their lowest possible densities, and the agreed number in the HTCP, and remove those tahr outside the agreed range.”

“We must also be mindful that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen an absence of hunting for two months and continues to negatively affect the international markets and hunting tourism sector. This will undoubtably have further repercussions for tahr population sizes if left unchecked.”

“In April 2019, the NZCA wrote to the Minister of Conservation noting that “the NZCA considers that DOC funded tahr control activity within National Parks should now aim for removal of all tahr, and not just the removal of nannies and kids while leaving bulls behind.” The NZCA is pleased to see that this initiative is now being included in DOC’s Operational Plan.”

“We are concerned, however, with the high level of misinformation being spread by hunting groups about the effects of the Department’s actions.”

“The national parks make up roughly 20% of the tahr feral range, and so there is significant alternate opportunity for tahr hunting in New Zealand to continue on public conservation land. Herds of tahr numbering in the hundreds of animals are regularly being seen in 2020 in the river catchments both north and south of the national parks in the Rangitata, Landsborough, Wanganui
and Whataroa Valleys.”

“The extermination of tahr in the National Parks is consistent with the National Parks Act 1980, the General Policy for National Parks, and the Management Plans of both the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.”

Mr Ellison says “The NZCA supports DOC and the Minister of Conservation in their ongoing work to ensure a controlled reduction of the tahr population back to within the limits of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993. The implementation of the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020-2021 is integral to the long-term health and intrinsic value of Papatūānukū.”

Background information

The New Zealand Conservation Authority Te Pou Atawhai Taiao O Aotearoa was established under the Conservation Act 1987, with members appointed by the Minister of Conservation. The NZCA has a role as an objective advocate on matters of national significance and interest in the conservation arena. They provide high quality independent advice to the Minister of Conservation and to the Department of Conservation on its strategic direction and performance.

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