Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is stepping up efforts to control Himalayan tahr across the central South Island as numbers have reached destructive levels.

Date:  18 September 2018

Tahr graze at high altitudes in the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana where they feed most intensively on tall snow tussock and kill entire plants.

New monitoring data gathered over 18 months has highlighted the population is much higher than expected and the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage has asked for it to be reduced urgently.

“It’s estimated there are at least 35,600 tahr on public conservation land and that’s 25,600 more than allowed under the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993 for the whole of the tahr range,” says Eastern South Island Operations Director, Andy Roberts.

DOC is aiming to remove 10,000 tahr over the next ten months. Tahr control will take place on public conservation land including the Westland/Tai Poutini and Aoraki Mt Cook National Parks.

“We will first be focusing on the Rakaia, Rangitata, Gammack and Two Thumb ranges where there are large numbers of tahr,” says Andy Roberts.

DOC controls tahr by running aerial operations with professional DOC hunters in helicopters. DOC, recreational and commercial hunting groups have together been removing an average of about 4,600 tahr each year.

“This hasn’t been enough to keep the population under control and we need to be doing more.”

The Tahr Liaison Group (made up of organisations with hunting interests and conservation groups along with Ngāi Tahu), has been asked to assist DOC in bringing tahr numbers back to within the limits set in the Thar Control Plan by hunting an additional 7500 animals over the next seven and a half months. 

“This joint effort to remove 17,500 animals will stabilize the current population. We will need to continue to increase our combined efforts over the next few years to reduce these numbers further.”

DOC first raised concerns about tahr not being counted effectively in 2015. A new monitoring programme was launched with data gathered over 18 months. The result was the new estimate of 35,000 tahr across conservation land of the central South Island.

A new tahr webpage will assist hunters so they can make informed decisions on where they would like to go hunting. It will feature maps showing the locations of DOC aerial control operations and details on where tahr can be found.

Key facts and links:

  • The Tahr Liaison Control Group is made up of  organisations with hunting interests and conservation groups. Members include, NZ Deer Stalkers Association, Game Animal Council, Safari Club International, Professional Hunting Guides Association, Forest and Bird, Ngāi Tahu, LINZ, Wild Animal Recovery Operators, Federated Mountain Club, Aerial Assisted Trophy Hunting and tahr farmers.
  • DOC held a meeting with the Tahr Liaison Group in Christchurch on 29 August 2018. 
  • Following this meeting and feedback from the group letters have been sent out to members.
  • Each group has been asked to remove a target number of tahr from public conservation land before 30 April 2019. 
  • The target number of tahr for each of the stakeholder groups are:
    • 2,500 by the NZ Deerstalkers Association, Safari Club International, Game Animal Council and Tahr Interest Group
    • 3,000 by the Wild Animal Recovery Operators
    • 1,500+ by Aerial Assisted Trophy Hunting concessionaires, using the offsets owed to DOC
    • 500 by the Professional Hunting Guides Association.               
    • 10,000 by DOC from all management units, excluding the two national parks. 
  • DOC will recommence tahr control work before 30 September.
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