If the Department of Conservation was hoping to diffuse the tahr culling debate by releasing a new control plan, it has failed wrote Neal Wallace in the “Farmers Weekly”.
Hunters says the plan is driven by ideology.
NZ Deerstalkers Association CEO Gwyn Thurlow says the plan also reflects political interference, lacks quality data and science and was made to please Forest and Bird who he says continue to threaten court action.
However DOC operations director Dr Ben Reddiex rejected claims DOC was seeking to eradicate tahr, saying animals were being left for hunters.
DOC is planning 132 hours of aerial control outside the tahr feral range and will target all tahr in the Mount Cook and Westland national parks.
“In the National Parks we are legally required to reduce the number of tahr to the lowest practicable densities,” Ben Reddiex saysid.
Gwyn Thurlow estimates there are fewer than 20,000 tahr left which he believes meets ecological objectives.
“The actual ecologically sustainable target number is between 10,000 and 50,000 tahr but no one actually knows the figure because DOC fails year after year to carry out the science.”
Laurie Collins of the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust says DOC using the National Parks Act as an excuse for “zero density” (i.e extermination) in Westland and Mt Cook national parks was a case of the department being “conveniently selective.”
The Act does rate “introduced” species as undesirable but if it came to that criteria, then all humans, blackbirds and sparrows would be subjected to killing as tahr, he said.
“That would be crazy. The reality is it’s a 21st century ecosystem,” says Laurie Collins. “The National Parks Act is out-of-date and based on ideological grounds rather than ecological ones.
© Laurie Collins – “Get real. It’s a 21st century ecosystem”