The Chair of New Zealand’s Game Animal Council (GAC) has heavily criticised the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Draft Tahr Control Operational Plan, arguing that it lacks scientific rigour and that it reneges on agreements reached just two years ago.
Since mid-2017 over 18,000 tahr have been removed through official control, commercial and recreational hunting.
In the proposed new plan, 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,” Don Hammond said.
Mr Hammond expressed specific concerns about the impact on small hunting business and regional towns.
“Those 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 livelihoods. 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.”
Hammond also went on to say that the Game Animal Council has also been disappointed at the process used to formulate this Plan.
“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.”