Tahr herd

Image: Scott Theobold | DOC

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

This webpage will be updated with new information throughout the control programme.

Tahr control operations 5-7 July 2019

The following maps show locations and numbers of tahr controlled and bulls seen 5-7 July inclusive on public conservation land in Management Unit 1.

Note that bull tahr were not targeted in this operation.

Tahr control operations 4-8 July 2019

The following maps show waypoints for tahr control undertaken 4-8 July inclusive on public conservation land in Management Units 5 and 6. Note that bull tahr are not being targeted in any control being undertaken over July and August 2019.

This work was undertaken by a contractor (MU5) and an Aerially Assisted Trophy Hunting concessionaire (MU6) so bull locations were not recorded for these operations.

Sightings of bull tahr will be recorded during operations conducted by DOC staff. Maps of these sightings will be posted on this website with the corresponding control map within 10 days of the operation.

Waypoints points for tahr control 4-8 July 2019:

Tahr control outside the feral range April to June 2019

  • The following map shows locations, results and effort for tahr control undertaken by the Department on public conservation land outside the tahr feral range over April to June 2019.
  • This has been important work to reduce range expansion and work to further develop our approach on this matter will continue to be a focus.

Tahr control outside the feral range (PDF, 3,930K)

Update: June 2019

Over the past five months DOC has undertaken tahr control outside the feral range of tahr to halt any range expansion. This has included surveillance and control in the Spenser Mountains, Ashburton Lakes, Mt Hutt, Dunstan Range, Oteake Conservation Park, Eyre Mountains, Thomson Range and the Northern and Southern Exclusion Zones.

There has been no control from DOC over the same time period within the tahr feral range – including the tahr rut.

The Tahr Foundation, NZ Deerstalkers Association, Game Animal Council and DOC are working on a new system to accurately record and verify the number of tahr recreationally hunted. A range of publicly available hunting apps have been assessed and reviewed and together we have refined the features required for the new system.

We will shortly be moving to a short field trial. In the interim, DOC has continued recording and collating hunting returns uploaded to the DOC website and we encourage recreational hunters to continue to log these. 

Recreation hunting returns on DOC website 19 June 2019
Management units/Zone Male shot Other shot Male seen Other seen
MU 1 - South Rakaia - Upper Rangitata 107 202 338 756
MU 2 - South Whitcombe - Whataroa 12 23 27 130
MU 3 - Gammack - Two Thumb 96 281 322 1402
MU 4 - Mount Cook - Westland National Parks 71 148 310 835
MU 5 - Ben Ohau 82 312 181 838
MU 6 - Landsborough 11 10 52 79
MU 7A - Wills Hunter - Ahuriri Valley 7 18 12 26
MU 7B - Wills Hunter - Boundary Creek 2 1 2 3
Southern Exclusion Zone 3 3 12 21
Total by category 391 998 1256 4090
Total 1389 5346

To meet the goals of the Tahr Control Operational Plan (2018/19), over the months of July and August nanny and juvenile tahr will be culled across all seven management units. Control will be undertaken from Aerially Assisted Trophy Hunting (AATH) concessionaires’ environmental contributions, tahr control contracts issued by the department, potentially Wild Animal Recovery Operators and DOC.

AATH concessionaires will undertake aerial culling as part of their concession conditions. Five nannies/juveniles are removed from the management units for every trophy bull taken on public conservation land and the control will be undertaken in July and August.

DOC will be co-ordinating the various control efforts to ensure that the planned number of tahr to be controlled (10,000 from 18 October 2018 to 30 August 2019) is met.

Given the high density of tahr throughout the management units it is estimated that total number of helicopter flying days will be approximately 30 days, or approximately four days per Management unit. To assist hunters, the location of all bull tahr observed during control undertaken by DOC will be recorded and mapped on the DOC website to aid hunter’s trip planning.

Update: May 2019

DOC has commenced tahr control work in the northern exclusion zone. Until the end of June DOC is concentrating on controlling tahr in the northern and southern exclusion zones as well as other pockets of animals beyond the management units. These areas generally have a low tahr density and this is important work to prevent the tahr range expanding. DOC-led control in the management units will be undertaken in July and August 2019.

As part of the Zero Invasive Predators research project, several hundred nannies and juveniles were recently taken out of the Perth/Whataroa. Another 60 animals were controlled by five organised recreational hunting groups in South Westland during March. These animals will be counted towards DOC’s overall reduction in the tahr population.

Update: March 2019

DOC’s Himalayan tahr control work, vital to protecting the unique alpine landscapes of the South Island, resumes the week starting 4 March 2019. DOC will continue working with the hunting community to reduce tahr on conservation land. Read a media release.

The Tahr Control Operational Plan 2018-19 (see below) will be followed as per the plan in October 2018, other than the timeframes for when the majority of tahr control will be undertaken. These have been reduced to March-April and then July-August 2019.

Update: October 2018

:DOC released its Tahr Control Operational Plan for October 2018 – 31 August 2019 which identifies how it will work with the hunting sector to reduce tahr numbers in the central South Island.(this was put on hold from mid-October 2018 to March 2019. See March 2019 update above). 

tahr-feral-range-map-390.jpg
Tahr feral range map. View a larger map (PDF, 984K)

The Operational Plan was developed following a series of meetings with representatives of the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group (TPILG) and includes ideas from the hunting sector on the best way to, over time, reduce numbers.

The operational plan is the first step towards reducing tahr numbers to within the limits of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.

Within this statutory plan the total tahr population has to be under 10,000 across the total tahr feral range. This includes public conservation land, as well as tahr on Crown pastoral leases and private land.

Related links

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.

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. 

Why are tahr being controlled?

DOC monitoring has estimated the Himalayan tahr population on public conservation land alone totals more than 35,000 animals (this estimate does not include tahr on Crown pastoral leases and private land). The estimate is more than the 10,000 allowed within the Himalayan Thar Control Plan.

Monitoring of the alpine and sub-alpine vegetation is showing tahr are having a significant impact. 

How will the control take place?

The Tahr Control Operational Plan identifies:

  • where and how DOC will carry out control work
  • the expected efforts and actions of the hunting sector to assist reduction of tahr numbers in high priority areas
  • how DOC can support the sector
  • opportunities for the hunting sector to organise themselves to coordinate their efforts across the feral range to assist in lowering the population
  • DOC’s ‘business-as-usual’ control in the Northern and Southern exclusion zones and outside of the feral range.

Note: DOC’s Operational Plan does not identify how tahr should be controlled on Crown pastoral leases and private land as DOC’s priority is to reduce tahr numbers on public conservation land.

Phased management approach

The phased management approach will ensure the Himalayan Thar Control Plan is implemented, to achieve its purpose over time. There will be ongoing Tahr Liaison Group meetings to share information and support decision making.

What control will DOC be doing?

The highest priority areas for DOC control are areas of public conservation land inside the management units of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan. The areas are:

  • Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
  • Westland/Tai Poutini National Park
  • Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area
  • Wilderness Areas
  • High value conservation areas
  • Areas that are difficult to access for recreational hunters
  • Areas that feed tahr into exclusion zones.

The control of male tahr, by DOC, within the feral range

Within the management units of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan, DOC will prioritise the control of female and juvenile tahr. DOC will not deliberately target identifiable male tahr - however some males may inadvertently be removed as part of control operations. This data will be openly reported. DOC expects other stakeholders to reduce the male tahr population.

When and where DOC control has taken place
Date Where Details
    Will be updated as soon as possible (within 10 working days of the conclusion of control operation)

Population monitoring

Aerial surveys have been carried out over recent years to estimate the density and abundance of Himalayan tahr on public conservation land in each of the seven management units and two exclusion zones in the Southern Alps. The surveys were carried out on three occasions at 66, 2 x 2 km plots located on public conservation land during 2016, 2017 and 2018.

For a full report on the aerial surveys see: Estimates of Himalayan tahr abundance in New Zealand: Results from aerial surveys (PDF, 1220K)

Key results were:

  • the total abundance of tahr on public conservation land for the period 2016 – 2018 was estimated to be 34,292 individuals (95% confidence interval; 24,777 – 47,461)
  • tahr abundances were highest in management units 3 and 4 (approximately 8,000 tahr in each), and were lowest in management unit 7 and the two exclusion zones (approximately 100 -150 tahr in each)
  • average tahr density over the three years of sampling was highest in management unit 3 (9.2 tahr/km2) and lowest in exclusion zone 2 (0.06 tahr/km2).

DOC is undertaking further tahr population monitoring in early 2019 which will further improve our estimates of the tahr population across the management zones and assist with the planning of future tahr control.


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