Himalayan tahr control operations
IntroductionDOC is working with Ngāi Tahu and the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group, to achieve the goals of the Himalayan Tahr Control Plan 1993.
Each year, we work with hunting and conservation stakeholders to produce an operational plan. We do this through the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group (TPILG), which includes numerous stakeholders with an interest in tahr, including hunting, outdoor and conservation groups.
The annual plan outlines how DOC will work in partnership with various groups to control tahr and protect native ecosystems. This includes on and off public conservation land.
Operational Plan 2023/24
This plan was developed through engagement with the TPILG for six months. Their feedback from meetings and in written submissions helped to refine this 2023/24 plan.
Updates throughout operations
Maps showing control and bull tahr locations
When a body of operational work is completed a map will be uploaded to the tahr sightings and control maps page. This will include maps showing control locations within the feral range as well as locations of identifiable male tahr sighted but not controlled in management units outside of national parks.
Aim of the control plan
DOC’s Tahr Control Operations are guided by the statutory Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993. This was developed under section 5(1)(d) of the Wild Animal Control Act 1977.
The plan sets a maximum population of 10,000 tahr across 706,000 ha of private land, Crown pastoral leases and public conservation land within the tahr feral range. The feral range is the legal boundary of where tahr are allowed to be.
Different control approaches ‘at place’
The control plan details the work we have currently scheduled. A summary of our plans for some places is available below.
Around the midpoint of the control programme DOC and the Game Animal Council will review our work to date. We may then reallocate resources to other management areas to optimise control.
Our focus on outside the feral range and national parks
This plan focuses most effort on controlling tahr outside their feral range, with some complementary work outside management units but within the feral range, to prevent tahr spreading into new areas. Substantial effort is also allocated to tahr control in national parks, to protect these special places.
Hunter-led management for South Rakaia/Rangitata (Management Unit 1)
DOC is supporting the Game Animal Council in partnership with Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua to develop a plan for hunter-led management of the South Rakaia/Rangitata (MU1).
The scope of hunter-led management and the activities it encompasses are still being developed but could involve hunters managing tahr populations, documenting the number of tahr controlled by hunters and reporting on and the health of ecosystems. DOC is excited to see what can be achieved by working together with the group on this opportunity.
A tahr population survey undertaken in Autumn 2021 suggests that tahr numbers are high within MU1 and parties involved in hunter-led management have acknowledged that in 2022/23 official control may be required in MU1; the timing and location of that control will be determined in consultation with hunting-sector organisations and Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua..
Work in other management units
Within other management units, effort within this plan will focus on places which are difficult for recreational hunters to access, but where tahr numbers and/or impacts are high.
We will not target identifiable male tahr over the 425,000 hectares of public conservation lands inside the management units outside national parks.
Official control of tahr is largely delivered using the established control tool of aerial hunting. Official aerial control within the tahr feral range focuses on winter and early spring to maximise control efficiency and minimise conflict with recreational users, including hunters.
In 2023/24 year we also plan to use professional ground hunters and targeted management hunts conducted by hunting groups to control tahr, particularly in forest areas where animals can be hard to spot from the air. These hunts may occur at other times (e.g. mid spring and/or later summer).
New research to support our planning
DOC’s research and monitoring programme is continuing this year with several initiatives underway to learn more about the tahr population and ecosystems.
We will analyse data from the remeasurment of historic vegetation plots that concluded in early 2023; this will be used to analyse long-term tahr impacts on alpine vegetation communities. We will also continue the development of a new programme, piloted during 2022/23, to look at how different tahr population densities impact vegetation condition.
Previous control plans and decisions
Read previous Tahr Control Operational Plan documents and related information on control planning decisions:
Reports on the impacts of Himalayan tahr:
- Long-term impacts of an introduced ungulate in native grasslands: Himalayan tahr in New Zealand’s Southern Alps (PDF, 801K)
- Impact of Himalayan tahr on snow tussocks in the Southern Alps, New Zealand (2014) (PDF, 964K)
- Impact of Himalayan tahr on snow tussock grasslands in the Southern Alps (2004) (PDF, 12,131K)
- Potential of Tier 1 and alternative monitoring networks to assess the ecological integrity of alpine vegetation exposed to tahr grazing (PDF, 3,999K)
Population monitoring reports:
- Estimates of Himalayan tahr numbers in New Zealand, Ramsey and Forsyth 2021 (PDF, 1,164K)
- Factsheet: Estimating Himalayan tahr numbers in New Zealand (PDF, 886K)
- Estimates of Himalayan tahr abundance in New Zealand September 2019 (PDF, 1,741K)
- Estimates of Himalayan tahr abundance in New Zealand 2015-2018 (PDF, 1,220K)
Find tahr hunting ‘hotspots’
DOC is mapping the locations of tahr observed on public conservation land.
Use our tahr sightings maps to plan hunts on conservation land, or find areas where you can hunt tahr and other wild animals.