Game Animal Council (GAC) says Department of Conservation’s (DOC) 2020-2021 Draft Tahr Control Operational Plan 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.
Yesterday (29 June 2020), the NZ Tahr Foundation announced that they are asking the High Court for an urgent ruling to stop the DOC from going ahead with its new tahr control plan.
GAC chair Don Hammond says since mid-2017, more than 18,000 tahr have been removed through official control, commercial, and recreational hunting.
In the latest draft control plan, 250 hours of helicopter culling has been proposed within the feral range, which, Hammond says, 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,” said Hammond.
He adds that there is “very inadequate science ” regarding the current tahr population densities
“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 who enjoy seeing tahr in the mountains but also the family-run guiding and commercial hunting businesses that will be affected.”
Hammond says regionally-based businesses “are already on their knees” due to the COVID-19 lockdown, adding that members of the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group were given the draft only two days prior to the meeting and asked to provide feedback.
“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,” said 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 valuable.”