Introduction

DOC will begin tahr control this week following the release of its operational plan outlining how it will work with the hunting sector to reduce tahr numbers in the central South Island.

Date:  16 October 2018

DOC monitoring has estimated the Himalayan Tahr population on public conservation land alone (not including Crown pastoral leases and private land) as totalling more than 35,000 animals.

The Tahr Control Operational Plan was developed following a recent meeting with representatives of the Tahr Liaison Group and includes ideas from the hunting sector on the best way to, over time, reduce numbers.

“By the end of August next year, DOC aims to reduce the tahr population on public conservation land by 10,000,” says DOC’s acting lead director for tahr control, David Agnew.

Heavy browsing and trampling by mobs of tahr damages, and can potentially wipe out, the native plants they feed on, including tall tussocks and iconic species like the Aoraki/Mt Cook buttercup.

“With the support of the hunting sector, DOC aims to remove 6000 animals from public conservation land between now and mid-November,” says David Agnew.

DOC will start aerial control from this Thursday (weather permitting).

“DOC will review the results of this initial operation with the Tahr Liaison Group in December. This review, alongside vegetation and population monitoring data, will influence what further tahr control is needed.

“DOC, aerially assisted trophy hunter operators, Wild Animal Recovery Operation concession holders and other hunters will undertake further control to remove 10,000 animals in total.

“I hope the recent tahr media coverage has inspired a new generation of recreational hunters to assist DOC by hunting tahr and playing their part to keep numbers down.

“Our native and threatened plants will stand their best chance at survival with reduced tahr numbers.  It’s crucial we work together to achieve this.

“The longstanding Himalayan Thar Control Plan sets an upper limit of 10,000 animals. DOC is working with members of the Tahr Liaison Group to, over time, reduce the population to keep within this limit.

“Once we’ve reached our initial targets, DOC will continue to work with the Tahr Liaison Group on the best strategy to achieve this long-term goal,” says David Agnew.

Himalayan tahr control operation proceeding - media release from Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation

Background information

  • More information and a copy of the Tahr Control Operational Plan.
  • The Tahr Control Operational Plan identifies locations where DOC and the hunting sector should focus on controlling tahr.
  • DOC’s control work will prioritise national parks, the Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, the northern and southern ‘exclusion zones’ and adjacent feeder valleys, and less accessible country.
  • DOC will pause its aerial control operations inside the feral range between mid-November 2018 and February 2019. A further break will take place between May to mid-June 2019 before control work recommences until August 31 2019. This is because aerial control is more efficient during late Summer and mid-Winter.
  • While DOC will target female and juvenile tahr, it is expected the hunting sector will increase its efforts to target all tahr.
  • Aerially assisted trophy hunting offsets (where commercial trophy hunting businesses shoot an additional number of female and juvenile tahr based on how many male tahr their clients remove) will also help to reduce tahr numbers.
  • Wild Animal Recovery Operation concession holders will be removing tahr carcasses; taking tahr skins (as part of trophy hunting) and capturing live tahr for stocking approved game parks on private land.

The Tahr Liaison Group includes representatives from Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu; and the following stakeholders:

  • Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board – on behalf of the Canterbury, West Coast and Otago Conservation Boards,
  • New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association,
  • Safari Club International (NZ chapter),
  • New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides’ Association,
  • Wild Animal Recovery Operators,
  • Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society,
  • Federated Mountain Clubs,
  • Federated Farmers - High Country Committee,
  • Aerial Assisted Trophy Hunters,
  • Tahr farmers,
  • Game Animal Council,
  • New Zealand Tahr Foundation,
  • New Zealand Game Estates.

The New Zealand Conservation Authority was also represented at the recent meeting.

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Phone: +64 4 496 1911
Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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