DOC’s Tahr Plan Threatens a Great Big Game Herd

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association has rejected the Department of Conservation’s plan to extensively cull tahr.

“The draft plan is a slap in the face for hunters and threatens the future of tahr.” said NZDA chief executive officer Gwyn Thurlow.
Consequently the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association Inc is supportive of the Tahr Foundation’s application for a High Court injunction to stop the Department of Conservation’s move to extensively cull Himalayan tahr. 
“NZDA hopes it will mean that DOC will come back to the table and be willing to listen to the hunting sector’s genuine concerns, said Gwyn Thurlow.
The Tahr Foundation has announced it filed an injunction in the High Court at Wellington on Friday, 26, 2020.
Under a new tahr cull operational plan due to come into effect on 1 July, the Department is proposing to triple the number of helicopter hours to kill tahr, remove any agreed number of tahr to be killed and target all mature males in national parks.  “Previous tahr control plans, supported by hunters and NZDA, have only targeted female and juvenile tahr and so acknowledged the recreational and economic value of bull tahr to our hunting community, he said. 
DOC’s rushed process this year and lack of its usual consultation seems to have backed the Tahr Foundation into a corner and left the Foundation with no option but to take legal steps in order to be heard. 
“The draft plan is a slap in the face for hunters and threatens the future of tahr. 
Good Management Needed
However Gwyn Thurlow said NZDA and other hunting organisations were “willing and happy” to work with DOC to produce good tahr herd management plans. 
He said hunters and hunting organisations were key stakeholders in managing tahr populations. 
“We deserve to be properly consulted and our suggestions carefully considered,” he added. 
The present proposal ignored the hunting sector and the drive for extermination would alienate tens of thousands of New Zealanders.  
“With an election only a couple of months away, DOC’s strategy doesn’t seem to be very well thought out.”
NZDA and its members placed high value on tahr as a game animal – proposing to wipe out large numbers of such a special and valued species could well influence many hunters’ votes at the election.
NZDA’s Wants
NZDA had put forward the following advice:- 
(a) This coming year DOC should monitor the result of last year’s cull 
(b) NZDA would like to see a research based and scientific lead approach 
(c) DOC should focus solely on the exclusion zone and buffer zone this year as presently the absolute focus should be to limit tahr to their feral range 
(d) The future plan must state no bulls should be targeted, including in national parks given the value of bulls and well understood big game management principles 
(e )In the national parks, hunters must be given the first opportunity to hunt areas that DOC want to carry out Official control.
(f) Where Official control is to be carried out, DOC should aim to reduce conflict with hunters and pubic and control unaccessible areas.
(g) Research and review of the outcome of last year’s cull is essential before any plan can be verified as effective and meeting the needs of all stakeholders.
(h) Commercial hunting and recreational hunting will now control tahr numbers of many areas.
(i) Official control around areas popular by hunters (recreational and commercial) should be avoided in culls.
© Photo Otago Daily Times
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