Tahr nannies and juvenile males

Image: Dylan Higgison | ©

Introduction

DOC is working with the hunting sector and the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group to over time reduce the size of the tahr population back within the limits of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.

Highlights

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is working with Ngāi Tahu, the hunting sector and the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group, to over time reduce the size of the tahr population to within the limits of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.

Following three years of aerial monitoring surveys, DOC estimates the Himalayan tahr population on public conservation land had reached approximately 35,000 animals by autumn 2018 (this estimate does not include tahr on Crown pastoral leases and private land). See Estimates of Himalayan tahr abundance in New Zealand: Results from aerial surveys (PDF, 1220K)

As Himalayan tahr are an introduced species and have no native predators in New Zealand, the population will continue to increase unless it is efficiently controlled by DOC and hunters. Tahr have a significant impact on threatened alpine and sub-alpine vegetation. See Animal pests - tahr

Current tahr control operations

Tahr are being controlled in some management units until 14 November 2019 by contributors including:

  • recreational hunters
  • a commercial contractor
  • DOC, and
  • Aerial Assisted Trophy Hunting concessionaires.

Maps of the locations of animals aerially controlled and where bulls (mature males) were observed have been produced. These maps are for use by recreational hunters as they show where large numbers of male tahr have been seen and where control has been carried out.

Tahr sighting maps and data

Tahr Control Operational Plan 2019-2020

The Tahr Control Operational Plan for 1 September 2019 to 30 June 2020 has been released. The plan was developed following meetings between DOC, Ngāi Tahu, and key stakeholders including members of the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group.

The plan will see DOC, recreational and guided hunters, a commercial contractor, WARO and Aerial Assisted Trophy Hunting concessionaires work together to control Himalayan tahr to protect ecologically significant areas such as the national parks.

DOC control will focus on protecting Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini national parks from the impacts of a tahr population, while also stopping the tahr feral range from geographically expanding. Under this plan, DOC control will take place from 1 September until 14 November 2019.

Instead of targeting a specific number of animals, DOC will target key areas and nationally significant landscapes. We plan to spend 40 hours in the air protecting the national parks as well as another 40 hours in the air controlling the edge of the feral range boundaries.

In all areas, DOC will be leaving identifiable male tahr for recreational and commercial hunters to control. Recreational hunters will be able to log their control efforts on an app which is currently in development.

The Tahr Control Operational Plan is designed to work towards reducing tahr populations to the densities required under the Himalayan Tahr Control Plan 1993, while a longer-term operational control plan is developed over the next year. The 2019-2020 operational plan is also designed to protect national parks by moving the number of tahr in the parks towards zero density.

As it has always done so, DOC will continue to carry out tahr control outside of the feral range to stop the geographical range from expanding. This work is not included in the plan as no tahr are supposed to be outside of the feral range.

Between now and the end of June 2020, DOC will be working with Ngāi Tahu and all tahr stakeholders to develop a long-term plan for tahr control which aims to meet the objectives of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.

View the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2019-2020 (PDF, 1,650K)

Planning to hunt tahr recreationally?

We would like to record the efforts of recreational hunters to reduce the tahr population. Your hunting effort and observations can help inform the management of tahr.

DOC and the Game Animal Council are developing an app to record tahr controlled by recreational hunters. In the meantime, to make it easy to capture this information we have created a short online form for you to send in your hunting returns.

Tahr hunting returns online form 

What is the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993?

The Himalayan Tahr Control Plan is a statutory document made under section 5(1)(d) of the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. It enables DOC to undertake official control to reduce tahr numbers when recreational, guided hunting and commercial hunting have not been able to keep tahr below the maximum number allowed. This plan was agreed to by the Tahr Liaison Group in 1993. 

Tahr control between October 2018 – 30 August 2019

DOC worked alongside organised recreational hunters, wild animal recovery operators, a commercial contractor and Aerial Assisted Trophy Hunting concessionaires to control Himalayan tahr and protect the alpine environment of the central South Island.

We collectively made excellent progress to reduce the Himalayan tahr population by 10,000 animals to protect native and iconic plants such as the snow tussock. Maps have been produced which show the location of animals aerially controlled and where males (bulls) were observed. These maps can be used by recreational hunters as they show where control has been carried out and where large numbers of male tahr can be found.

Tahr sighting maps and data

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