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Tahr Eradication Programme

Tahr Eradication



   We have too many tahr in our mountains. That’s a fact. An optimum population level is a subject of discussion not only limited to and by the Department of Conservation, but also embraced and expected by hunters, that’s the second fact. What’s the problem then? Why so much outrage at the recently released news that the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, has ordered the cull of somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 tahr?


   We need to step back to a document, which in my opinion, is much outdated. The Himalayan Thar Control Plan (HTCP). (Yeah, they used to spell it Thar way back then!). In the introductory statement from the then Minister of Conservation, Denis Marshall, he states “If it was possible, eradication would be the preferred option for the Department.”  Again, when Marshall raises the issue of maximum tahr densities he cites, “Ideally the Department would seek zero thar densities across the feral range.” 


   About the only positive I can take from the HTCP is that it specifically states the Department will liaise closely with recreational hunters and hunting organisations to inform them of localised areas where tahr numbers are too high, encouraging them to take an active role in herd reduction, plus inform hunters of results from ALL parts of the plan implementation.


   That’s not happening.


  Tahr density estimates recently undertaken are that there are 35,633 tahr, with a 95% confidence interval of the population being between 17,347 and 53,920 tahr. You can take that last figure any which way you choose. Interestingly enough, the survey wasn’t even conducted by NZ scientists, but rather contracted to an Australian institute. Is that because us Kiwis don’t possess the expertise on how to manage our own backyard?


   In June I met with Lou Sanson, the Director General of DOC, where the topic of tahr densities was raised, given I’d just returned from a week of hunting the Karangarua. The likelihood of a management cull in the vicinity of 5-10,000 tahr was discussed and at that stage Lou mentioned it would be nannies and juvenile tahr which would be targeted. However, it would seem that the Minister has her own agenda, the number of tahr to be killed has trebled, while it now appears up to 30% of the animals to be culled will be bulls. When you decipher that number, that’s pretty much every single bull in sight.


   It’s so wrong and we have to stop it. Actually, you have to stop it, as it’s only our collective voice that will bring the politicians to the table. No-one else will do it.


   Here’s what you need to do. Write to your local MP (I’ll include some excellent points from The Tahr Foundation FB, so that should make it easy on ya!) and choose a couple more MPs from the list below to email or even better, write to (you don’t even need to put a stamp on the envelope) Emphasise DOC needs to actually do what is stated in the HTCP, proactively liaise with hunters. An email is good, a posted letter is better, as it sits on a desk, must be answered and must be filed, emails can be deleted even before they are read…


Tahr Foundation suggestions to write to MPs.

  1. The culling must stop now
  2. DoC must work with the GAC to come up with a solution that does not destroy tahr hunting
  3. There is no need for a panic reaction, tahr numbers will not explode while a solution is reached
  4. Mention you support a culling programme
  5. NO Bull Tahr of any age to be shot
  6. State you support more robust science to set population levels that meet both conservation and hunting needs
  7. State you are prepared to contribute to Tahr Management by actively participating in nanny culls
  8. Tahr hunting gets people into remote back country where no others go.


If sending your letter in an envelope:

[insert MP name] Freepost Parliament Private Bag 18 888 Parliament Buildings Wellington 6160



MP’s email contacts:



    Join a club or organisation where instead of one voice we have thousands. Like FB pages that promote hunting tahr and other species. Support the Game Animal Council in their mandate to lobby for hunters and provide advice to the Minister. (Even though the GAC is a statutory body, the Minister has failed to meet with them yet, which underlines her disdain for hunters basically.)


   If you believe Tahr are the only species that will be targeted, think again. There’s a Bill going through the House right now that will see trout and salmon removed from many of our rivers…


   So that’s it. If you ever thought your hunting way of life would be around forever, you’re bloody wrong. Get off your arse, stand up - and be counted or you will lose it.



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