Tahr Control Operational Plan
Purpose of the plan
The management of Himalayan tahr is governed by a statutory plan, the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993, prepared under section 5(1)(d) of the Wild Animal Control Act 1977.
A key element of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan is that it sets a maximum population of 10,000 tahr across Crown pastoral leases, private and public conservation land in the tahr feral range (the legal boundary of where tahr are allowed to be).
1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 plan
Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/2021 (PDF, 1,847K) reconsidered after consultation.
Update 26 February 2021
Research and Monitoring
DOC is pleased to announce the commencement of a research and monitoring project within two management units in the east of the tahr feral range to estimate tahr abundance.
Between now and early May, DOC will use helicopters to gather data on tahr populations on public conservation land within the South Rakaia/Rangitata and Gammack/Two Thumb management units. The helicopters will fly at low levels across various sites in the management units.
In previous years, DOC’s aerial monitoring has estimated the total tahr population on public conservation land. By focusing on a smaller number of management units, DOC can take a detailed look at the tahr population including age and sex information.
Tahr Control Operational Plan 2021/22
DOC is currently engaging with the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group on the development of a draft Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2021/22.
DOC will discuss the draft Tahr Control Operational Plan with the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group in March.
The Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2021/22 is expected to be finalised in May.
Update 26 November 2020
DOC has completed its planned Himalayan tahr control operations within the tahr feral range for 2020.
Hunters can now head out on trips this summer on public conservation land throughout the feral range knowing DOC’s work for the year is complete.
Between mid-July and early November, DOC aerially controlled 7,481 tahr on public conservation land to protect alpine eco-systems from the impacts of high tahr densities.
Maps showing where tahr were controlled as part of the Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/21 have been uploaded to the website.
Sightings of identifiable males located outside of the national parks management unit have also been mapped to help hunters.
Next month, DOC will meet with the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group to begin engagement on a Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2021/22.
Tahr controlled between July and November 2020
A total of 7,481 tahr have been controlled between July and November 2020 under the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21.
Outside Management Unit 4 (national parks)
- 4,182 female and juvenile tahr were controlled on public conservation land located outside the national parks management unit, but inside of the feral range.
- Outside the national parks management unit, DOC targeted high densities of tahr and did not target identifiable males. The groups targeted generally ranged in size between 10 to 30 animals. Other tahr were left for hunters in these areas.
Management Unit 4 (national parks)
- 3,299 tahr were controlled within the Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks Management Unit to protect these special places.
- Management Unit 4 (national parks) is the only location inside the feral range where DOC is legally required to target all tahr.
Update 20 November 2020
DOC has now completed aerial tahr control under the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21 on public conservation land in the tahr feral range.
Information from recent control will be verified and maps published on the tahr web pages next week. DOC will also communicate summary information and the outcomes from the season shortly.
DOC will be engaging with the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group on the results from the last two years and plans for research and monitoring at a meeting in December 2020.
Update 2 November 2020
Since 16 July, DOC has completed about 220 hours of aerial tahr control on public conservation land within the seven tahr management units that make up the tahr feral range.
During July and September, approximately 5,900 tahr were controlled. Additional data from operations in October and early November will soon be verified and uploaded to the tahr web pages.
3,050 tahr were controlled in the national parks' management unit. Approximately 2,850 additional female and juvenile tahr were controlled on public conservation land outside of the national parks' management unit, but within the tahr feral range.
Data from this year will be analysed to identify what further control is needed in the future to continue moving towards the goals of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.
Over the past two years, DOC has mapped the locations where thousands of identifiable male tahr sightings have been made during control operations. These tahr have been left for hunters who can use these maps to help plan their hunting trips. Hunters are encouraged to hunt female, juvenile and bull tahr to help keep the population under control.
DOC is currently preparing to commence planning and discussions with stakeholders for the Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2021/22. This plan will be in place by 30 June 2020, but it is too early to determine the what control will be delivered during the 2021/22 financial year.
Crown pastoral lease survey
Himalayan tahr on Crown pastoral land are being surveyed as part of efforts to learn more about their population in the iconic South Island high country.
Land Information New Zealand and DOC are surveying 30 Crown pastoral leases within the tahr feral range. The survey was scheduled to take place earlier this year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photographs taken from a plane using high resolution cameras will help build a clearer picture of the tahr population on Crown pastoral lease land.
Many leaseholders regularly carry out tahr control to limit their numbers as a condition of their lease, but the survey may reveal further control is needed.
Tahr are highly mobile and can easily migrate between land boundaries. During control operations, multiple mobs of up to 20 tahr have been regularly found on public conservation land near Crown pastoral leases.
Update 14 September 2020
DOC has recently met with the Game Animal Council to discuss where Himalayan tahr control operations will be undertaken this year. The meeting follows the release of the reconsidered Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/21.
After a very positive meeting with the Council, DOC has now finalised where control will be undertaken this year. DOC sought the Council's advice on the allocation of the remaining 77 hours of planned control outside the national parks' management unit. The total number of control hours remain the same, however DOC has reallocated some of the remaining hours to less accessible areas of the feral range.
Summary of changes
DOC is reducing its previously planned control hours within the South Rakaia and Upper Rangitata management unit which is favoured by hunters. DOC has also completed control for the year in the Wills/Makarora/Hunter management unit where tahr numbers are at relatively low densities.
DOC is avoiding popular hunting spots and huts and is focusing on controlling high densities of tahr within terrain that is less suitable for ground hunting. For example, DOC is still regularly finding groups of up to 30 tahr in the Landsborough where access is challenging. DOC is reallocating some of the remaining control hours to target less accessible areas of the feral range.
DOC will continue to leave identifiable male tahr for hunters outside of the national parks’ management unit. Plans are also progressing to improve hunter access where possible, including extending the popular tahr ballot.
DOC will continue to update the DOC website with the latest control data and will make it clear once control within a management unit is complete for the year.
Use the tahr sightings maps to identify hot spots where identifiable males have been observed during control operations and left behind.
Tahr control for 2020/21 has been completed in the following areas:
- Potts, Arrowsmith and Cloudy Peak ranges (Management Unit 1: South Rakaia – Upper Rangitata)
- Southern Two Thumb Range and Sinclair Range (Management Unit 3: Gammack/Two Thumb)
- Ahuriri and the Ben Ohau faces (Management Unit 5: Ben Ohau)
- All of Management Unit 7: Wills/Hunter/Makarora
|Management Units (MU)||Total planned hours within the Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/21||Approximate hours completed between July and August 2020||Approximate remaining hours to be completed|
South Rakaia –
South Whitcombe – Whataroa
|MU 3: Gammack/Two Thumb||20||11||9|
|MU 5: Ben Ohau||10||5||9|
|MU 6: Landsborough||40||20||30|
|MU 7: Wills/ Makarora/Hunter||20||3.5||0|
As well as the 77 hours discussed with the Game Animal Council, DOC will undertake a further 55 hours in the national parks’ management unit.
DOC is also concerned about the geographical spread of tahr, which is why it is targeting the northern and southern points of the feral range. This will be complemented by 145 hours of planned control in the exclusion zones and outside the feral range.
Update 1 September 2020
DOC has released its reconsidered Tahr Control Operational Plan for 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 (Operational Plan).
Documents related to the consultation process and decision are avaialble below, with a link to questions and answers.
In developing the reconsidered Operational Plan for 2020/2021, DOC took into account its legal obligations, materials it provided to stakeholders in advance of a meeting with them, and oral and written submissions from 14 stakeholders.
While DOC considered all stakeholders’ requests for changes to the annual Operational Plan, we acknowledge the finalised plan will not completely satisfy all stakeholders, as submitters sought very different outcomes.
New elements of the reconsidered Operational Plan include:
- A formal assurance DOC will avoid targeting tahr in popular recreational hunting areas located outside of the national park’s management unit.
- DOC will explore options to improve opportunities for recreational hunting, guided hunting, and commercial recovery of tahr. This will include options to extend the tahr ballot, options to improve hunter access, the provision of maps with information on bull sightings and easy-to-access areas with high tahr numbers, as well as communication with hunting permit holders.
- DOC is committed to learning as it goes. We will invite the Game Animal Council to a discussion on the results of 2020/21 control operations to date. DOC will consider the Council’s advice in determining the operational detail of work for the remaining control effort outside of the national parks’ management unit.
- Urgently progressing plans to work with Ngāi Tahu, researchers and stakeholders to develop an integrated research and monitoring programme by 10 December. The implementation of this programme will begin over summer.
- DOC’s discussion with the Game Animal Council will include whether to cease all further planned control in the Wills, Makarora and Hunter areas (Management Unit 7).
DOC’s reconsidered Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/2021 seeks to achieve the following key objectives:
- Targeting all tahr in Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks to the lowest practicable densities to protect and preserve these special places.
- Controlling high densities of female and juvenile tahr across the tahr feral range to reduce tahr impacts and population spread, while leaving smaller groups and identifiable males outside of the national parks for hunters.
- Important control outside of the tahr feral range to stop the geographical range of tahr from expanding.
- Working with Land Information New Zealand to understand tahr numbers on Crown pastoral leases.
DOC will achieve this by:
- Undertaking up to 250 hours of control inside of the feral range. (DOC has already completed 118 hours since mid-July).
- Considering the Game Animal Council’s advice in determining the operational detail of work for the remaining control effort outside the national parks’ management unit. Control work in the national parks will proceed while this occurs.
- Targeting all tahr outside the feral range to stop the geographical range expanding.
We have released the decision document and all information Deputy Director-General Mike Slater considered before making his decision to approve the revised Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/21.
These documents outline the consultation process, submissions, analysis and how the Tahr Control Operational Plan was reconsidered.
Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/2021 (PDF, 1,847K) reconsidered after consultation
Documents related to the consultation process and decision:
- High Court judgment from July 2020 on the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21 (PDF, 387K)
- Information that DOC used to inform its decision on the reconsidered Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/2 (PDF, 7,917K)
- Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993 (includes the Policy)
- Section 4 and 43 of the National Parks Act (PDF, 95K) View on NZ Legislation
- Groups that DOC consulted with on the reconsidered Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21 (PDF, 109K)
- Written submissions on the reconsideration of the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21 (PDF, 16,887K)
- Submission analysis on the reconsideration of the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21 (PDF, 1,424K)
- Submission decision summary on the reconsideration of the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21 (PDF, 184K)
Note: some of these documents are low quality scans
Control to date
Following a legal challenge on the previously approved Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/2021, a decision from the High Court allowed DOC to complete up to 125 hours of aerial tahr-control while consulting stakeholders on the plan.
We have completed 118 hours of control and have recently published maps showing the locations of more than 1000 observations of bull tahr that have been left for hunters. The area we have flown is less than 15% of 425,000ha of public conservation land located within the feral range, but outside the national parks’ management unit.
We have provided an FAQ section to answer questions you may have about the Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/2021.
Original Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020/21 (PDF, 2,119K) The plan was replaced 1 September 2020
Reports on the impacts of Himalayan tahr:
- Long-term impacts of an introduced ungulate in native grasslands: Himalayan tahr in New Zealand’s Southern Alps (PDF, 801K)
- Impact of Himalayan tahr on snow tussocks in the Southern Alps, New Zealand (2014) (PDF, 964K)
- Impact of Himalayan tahr on snow tussock grasslands in the Southern Alps (2004) (PDF, 12,131K)
- Potential of Tier 1 and alternative monitoring networks to assess the ecological integrity of alpine vegetation exposed to tahr grazing (PDF, 3,999K)
Population monitoring reports:
- Factsheet: Estimating Himalayan tahr numbers in New Zealand (PDF, 886K)
- Estimates of Himalayan tahr abundance in New Zealand September 2019 (PDF, 1,741K)
- Estimates of Himalayan tahr abundance in New Zealand 2015-2018 (PDF, 1220K)
Find tahr hunting ‘hotspots’
DOC is mapping the locations of tahr observed on public conservation land.
Tahr Returns app
Use the app to record the number of Himalayan tahr you've hunted.