DOC’s 2020-2021 Draft Tahr Control Operational Plan as
presented to the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group is
not founded on adequate science and is a departure from
plans previously supported by the hunting sector, says Game
Animal Council Chair Don Hammond.
Two years ago, plans
were announced that would have devastated the tahr
population. This led to a threat of court action by parts of
the hunting sector. The Game Animal Council worked to
achieve an agreement that saw hunting opportunities
protected but the herd reduced.
Since mid-2017 over
18,000 tahr have been removed through official control,
commercial and recreational hunting.
The latest draft
control plan once again has parts of the hunting sector
seeking legal action.
250 hours of helicopter culling
has been proposed within the feral range, which is more than
three times the scale of the previous operation and far more
than was expected.
“DOC has also stated their
intention to remove all tahr from Aoraki/Mt Cook and
Westland Tai Poutini National Parks, including mature bulls.
This will immediately end hunting in those national parks
and further discourage Kiwis wishing to enjoy adventures
within them,” says Hammond.
“Science needs to be
the basis of any animal management plan and unfortunately
there is very inadequate science regarding current tahr
population densities and their impact on native vegetation
in different locations. Given this poor level of
understanding, the new proposed plan has the potential to
decimate the tahr herd.”
“This is incredibly sad
not only for thousands of recreational Kiwi tahr hunters and
other New Zealanders that enjoy seeing tahr in the mountains
but also the family-run guiding and commercial hunting
businesses that will be affected.”
regionally-based businesses are already on their knees due
to the COVID-19 lockdown and this may well be the mortal
blow that costs a significant number of people their
The Game Animal Council has also been
disappointed at the process used to formulate this
“Hunting sector members of the Tahr Plan
Implementation Liaison Group, most of whom are volunteers,
were given the draft only two days prior to the meeting and
then asked to provide informed feedback on it. That isn’t
possible in such a short timeframe. The sector needs the
opportunity to consult properly and provide practical
alternatives based on staged population reduction that
includes proper scientific monitoring.”
certain aspects of tahr management where all stakeholders
are on the same page. The Game Animal Council and other
hunting sector organisations all agree that tahr existing
outside the feral range should be eradicated and we would
support this aspect of any control programme.
Game Animal Council will, as we have always done, continue
to engage constructively and work towards a better
solution,” says Hammond. “If this control plan goes
ahead it will be really sad outcome for New Zealand, when
alternatively, a properly researched and managed tahr herd
could be so