DOC to begin tahr control to reduce population numbers by 10,000 in South Island

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is set to begin tahr control this week following the release of its operational plan outlining how it will work with the hunting sector to reduce tahr numbers in the central South Island.

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A NZ Hunter spokesperson Willie Duley told Breakfast about the damage a proposed cull would inflict. Source: Breakfast

The Himalayan tahr population on public conservation land alone totals more than 35,000, DOC monitoring has found.

The Tahr Control Operational Plan was developed following a recent meeting with representatives of the Tahr Liaison Group, and includes ideas from the hunting sector on the best way to decrease their numbers over time.

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Officials say tahr numbers have to be limited to protect the landscape. Source: 1 NEWS

DOC's acting lead director for tahr control, David Agnew, said, "By the end of August next year, DOC aims to reduce the tahr population on public conservation land by 10,000".

Heavy browsing and trampling by mobs of tahr can damage, and potentially wipe out, the native plants they feed on, including tall tussocks and the Aoraki/Mt Cook buttercup.

"With the support of the hunting sector, DOC aims to remove 6000 animals from public conservation land between now and mid-November," Mr Agnew said.

DOC is expected to begin aerial control on Thursday.

The results of the initial operation will be reviewed alongside the Tahr Liaison Group in December.

The cull has been opposed by some, with thousands getting behind moves to challenge the decision in court. 

NZ Tahr Foundation spokesperson Willie Duley told Breakfast last month that he questioned the science behind DOC's plans, and said it was "nothing short of eradication."