Combined effort to control Himalayan tahr and protect native plants
Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication.
IntroductionDOC and hunters are targeting Himalayan tahr over the next two months to protect the majestic landscapes and native plants of the Southern Alps / Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.
Date: 28 June 2019
Tahr move in social groups, favouring certain habitats and selectively browsing native alpine plants. Their effect on the landscape is patchy, but long-term research shows the height of snow tussock has significantly reduced in areas of high tahr activity.
DOC’s tahr programme manager James Holborow says throughout July and August, DOC and commercial hunters will control female and juvenile tahr on public conservation land.
“It’s pleasing to see a combined effort to protect and restore the unique landscape of the central South Island taking shape,” says James.
Since April, private and guided recreational hunters have been hunting tahr on public conservation land during the tahr rut and winter ballots. Tahr carcasses are also being used by the Zero Invasive Predators research programme on the West Coast.
From Monday, DOC, Aerial Assisted Trophy Hunting concessionaires and a commercial contractor will be controlling tahr in each of the seven management units, which include Aoraki Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.
As stated in the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2018/2019, DOC will leave bulls (male tahr) in the seven Tahr Management Units for recreational and commercial hunters to hunt.
DOC is confident this combined effort will meet the target set last October to reduce the Himalayan tahr population by 10,000 animals by the end of August.
“Until now, DOC has been focusing on controlling animals in the northern and southern ‘exclusion zones’ and areas outside of the tahr feral range to try and contain the population and reduce the risk of it expanding geographically.
“Winter is the ideal time to aerially control tahr as the animals and their tracks are easier to see from the air.”
As the programme moves into the next phase of control, DOC and Ngāi Tahu are engaging with key environmental and hunting stakeholders to develop next year’s control plan. The plan will aim to over time reduce the tahr population to meet the objectives of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.
“While latest estimates indicate there are nearly 35,000 tahr on public conservation land, little is known about the size of the population on private and leasehold land. A priority for next year will be to monitor tahr that aren’t on public conservation land.”
DOC is also working with the Game Animal Council, New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the NZ Tahr Foundation on a new app-based system for recreational hunters to log and verify their hunting efforts so their contributions can be included in future control plans.
“It’s important we continue to work together to protect New Zealand alpine ecosystems from the impacts of a growing tahr population. There is no plan to eradicate Himalayan tahr.”
- Information on the location of any bulls discovered during DOC control will be provided to the public and the hunting sector.
- Wild Animal Recovery Operation concession holders may also contribute to tahr control by removing tahr.
Tahr control to date
Included in reaching the 10,000 control target in the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2018/2019.
- The Zero Invasive Predators programme has signalled they will use up to 300 tahr as part of their research programme. To date they have used approximately 250 tahr carcasses.
- Recreational hunters controlled 63 animals in March as part of an organised recreational hunting opportunity.
- DOC has issued a control contract to a commercial operator to control 1000 tahr in each of two tahr management units.
- Recreational hunters participating in the balloted hunts during the tahr rut are likely to have controlled several hundred tahr. Their returns will be collated in July and contribute to the 10,000 target.
- We know Aerially Assisted Trophy Hunting (AATH) concessionaires and other commercial concessionaires have controlled a number of male tahr. The AATH returns will be collated and contribute to the 10,000 control target. Their environmental contributions (where they control an additional number of female and juvenile tahr based on how many male trophies their clients remove) will contribute to the count for control purposes. This number is yet to be confirmed.
Additional tahr control
Not included in reaching the 10,000 control target in the Tahr Control Operational Plan 2018/2019.
- Recreational hunters have recorded hunting 1389 animals and sighting a further 5346 tahr. This number won’t be counted against this year’s 10,000 target as the number of animals can’t be verified. DOC, the Game Animal Council, the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the NZ Tahr Foundation are working on a new app-based system to verify and record hunter contributions in the future.
- DOC have controlled 380 tahr outside of the tahr feral range this year. This includes 298 animals at Mt Hutt, which is east of the feral range. Tahr are not supposed to be outside the feral range and DOC actively controls them. Significant effort is involved in searching outside the feral range as a prevention method to ensure the feral range does not geographically expand.
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