Conservation minister versus hunters, National on tahr control

National have been having a spat with Green MP and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage, in support of hunting interests opposed to the cull: Hunting group threatens legal action over DoC’s mass cull of Himalayan tahr

A recreational hunting group is threatening court action in an attempt to prevent the Department of Conservation’s (DoC’s) mass cull of the Himalayan tahr.

The New Zealand Tahr Foundation is unhappy with DoC’s decision to cull 10,000 tahr on public conservation land in the South Island, including the Westland-Tai Poutini and Aoraki Mt Cook National Parks, over the next 10 months.

DoC estimates there are at least 35,600 tahr on public conservation land – 25,600 more than allowed under the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.

The Tahr Liaison Group, made up of organisations with hunting interests and Ngāi Tahu, will help reduce the numbers by hunting an extra 7500 – overall halving the population if successful.

New Zealand Tahr Foundation Treasurer Kaylyn Pinney says the group just wants its consideration to be heard by DoC.

“It think this is pretty clear this is important for everybody,” she says.

“You can’t just walk in and take away the biggest resource to the hunting industry and expect us not to stand up for ourselves.”

Yesterday from National MP Sarah Dowie:  20k signatures calling on Sage to cut the tahr cull

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage needs to listen to the almost 20,000 Kiwis who have signed my petition in less than 15 hours and halt her cull of tens of thousands of tahr, due to start this weekend, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage’s decision to kill these tahr based on anecdotal evidence and without a proper consultation process with recreational hunters and the hunting industry is appalling.

“This is not based on science and is an unacceptable slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of recreational hunters who make a difference on the ground for conservation.

“Not only that, Ms Sage has also specifically instructed Department of Conservation to cull bull tahr – worth an estimated $14,000 each to the booming hunting tourism industry.

“National believes that conservation should be based on science, not ideology. Like the hunting community, National believes tahr numbers do need to be sensibly managed.

“Instead of taking a pragmatic approach, Ms Sage is ignoring advice from hunting representatives like the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association who have proposed a managed hunter-led population reduction over three years.

“The Minister is arming DOC rangers with guns and chartering helicopters as we speak.

“The cull starts Sunday. It must be stopped.”

The petition calling on Eugenie Sage to Stop the Tahr Cull can be found here.

There was some controversy over the petition that I don’t have details on.

Sage responded:  National prioritise invasive species above alpine ecosystems and landscapes

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says the National Party’s petition to stop control of Himalayan tahr shows that National doesn’t understand conservation, and is resorting in opposition to a bizarre form of shouting for the sake of political point scoring.

“Truly, a petition by National to “save tahr” is absurd,” Eugenie Sage says.

“Whilst in government, National were missing in action protecting our special alpine landscapes and ecosystems from heavy browsing and trampling by a ballooning population of Himalayan tahr.

“Despite the international importance of New Zealand’s alpine plants, many of which are only found here in Aotearoa, the Department of Conservation was starved of funding and tahr numbers were allowed to explode.

“Once again, this government is having to clean up after nine years of neglect. I am taking the necessary steps to fix the damage done, and making decisions that protect our biodiversity and beautiful indigenous plants. I am proud to stand up for our native taonga in the Ka Tiritiri o Moana/Southern Alps.

“The previous government did not ensure that the limits in the Himalayan Tahr Control Plan from 1993 were kept, and numbers of tahr have ballooned three times higher than allowed.

“We’ve resurrected the Tahr Liasion Group that provides hunters, conservation and other stakeholders with input because we recognise that communities love our alpine landscapes.

“I will continue to engage with the Tahr Liason Group and with hunting groups such the Game Animal Council and NZ Deerstalkers on this important issue.

“I’m not sure if National are aware of the science on this, but tahr are an invasive species that eat their way through our precious native plants. They are destroying the unique New Zealand biodiversity in the Southern Alps, a stunning part of New Zealand that New Zealanders want to protect.

“Would National seriously rather protect invasive tahr than protect our world-renowned natural landscapes? That is what at risk here.

“I suggest National do some homework before continuing to peddle this petition,” Eugenie Sage said.

Deerstalkers Association is against this (ODT) ‘Search and destroy’ tahr cull criticised

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage’s proposals to cull 17,500 Himalayan mountain tahr has been described as an unnecessary ”large-scale search and destroy” operation – destined to end up in court.

Almost $120,000 has been pledged to the Tahr Foundation toward legal costs by hunters during the past five days, since Ms Sage announced the cull.

In a letter to members of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, national president Trevor Chappell said yesterday Ms Sage’s proposal to cull so deeply into a herd was ”unprecedented”.

”If it means that a court injunction needs to be sought – so be it,” Mr Chappell said.

He believed Ms Sage’s stance could escalate further into a ”wholesale slaughter” of introduced Fiordland wapati and red deer and the sika deer of the Kaimanawas and Kawekas.

”Minister Sage has already indicated there will be no recognition of Herds of Special Interest on her watch. As these herds have relatively defined areas, they may be next on the list.”

Mr Chappell said ”We will oppose unnecessary 1080 poison drops on our game animals and we will vigorously oppose the unconsulted decimation of the tahr herd.”

NZDA agreed tahr numbers were too high, but proposed a reduction over three years.

Late Wednesday (National Party): Minister Sage forced to postpone her tahr hunt

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected.

“While I welcome the fact that Ms Sage has delayed her cull this weekend, I am disappointed it has come to this.

“While National supports managing tahr numbers the Minister has no excuses for not adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters.

“The hunting sector is advocating a responsible plan to manage tahr numbers rather than the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals. If Ms Sage had properly consulted, she would have a better understanding of this.

“Ms Sage must halt the cull until she has listened to advice from hunting representatives like the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association who have proposed a managed hunter-led population reduction over three years.

“Almost 23,000 concerned New Zealanders have signed my petition calling on her to stop the cull. She must listen to them.”

So this is an unresolved issue put on hold for now.

Sage again seems to have discovered that Green ideals can be tricky to implement in the real world of politics.



  1. From a FishnHunt forum:

    That is a good result, but it’s nothing to do with her having a change of mind – nor being scared off by the numbers.

    But if you were to look at the threads covering the topic on this forum – people are talking about it and are not happy.

    Willie Duley had his talk on the Breakfast Show and stated his and the Thar Foundation’s case very well.
    Willie was the perfect spokesman, young and very presentable who wished only to engage in discussion over this issue – a great voice of reason.

    Then you had the NZDA, the sleeping giant coming out with full intention to do battle – and they left little doubt they would have gone in swinging.

    Then the National Party poll.

    Sage broke the rules and was seen to do so – so I expect Party/Lawyer advice snuck in through the arrogance advising caution.

    She hasn’t gone – she will be back, but her agenda is now out there for everyone to see.

    Keep on your toes and keep your coffee money flowing into your favourite fight club – I think they be needing it, if not today – then tomorrow or the day after.

  2. robertguyton

     /  September 27, 2018

    So…National have reneged on their “Predator free New Zealand” “aspiration”?
    They are determined to protect the invasive, native alpine-plant eating tahr, whose numbers have ballooned under the management National designed?

    • If they meant all predators, then yes. But they propose some controls: “Like the hunting community, National believes tahr numbers do need to be sensibly managed.”

      • robertguyton

         /  September 27, 2018

        “National believes tahr numbers do need to be sensibly managed.” – yes. They set the population limit at 1000. That “target” was passed long ago, during their term in office.
        Now, they’re barking, as it’s popularly said, at tahrs.

      • robertguyton

         /  September 27, 2018

        The hunting community, despite promises didn’t maintain the required limit . The numbers ballooned out to 5 times the limit set, despite their assurances. Go Eugenie. She’s feisty and stropped National up fully in the House yesterday.

  3. robertguyton

     /  September 27, 2018

    “Sage again seems to have discovered that Green ideals can be tricky to implement in the real world of politics.”
    Green ideals? The requirement to keep tahr numbers at 1000 animals was a National Party one. At 5 times that number, National are swinging in to support … the invasive pest!!! Go Simon!!

  4. Gezza

     /  September 27, 2018

    “Not only that, Ms Sage has also specifically instructed Department of Conservation to cull bull tahr – worth an estimated $14,000 each to the booming hunting tourism industry.

    This sounds pretty sexist robert.

    • robertguyton

       /  September 27, 2018

      $14, 000 each? Ah, the nub of National’s concern .
      Wealthy Americans with big guns, in helicopters: a National Party wet-dream.

      • Gezza

         /  September 27, 2018

        Tahr don’t belong here robert. Personally I don’t care if they get eradicated. But it sounds like they’ve been around for a while now and there’s a fair whack of money flowing into local economies from hunting tahr.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 27, 2018

          $14,000 to kill an animal by using it for target practice….that is abhorrent to me.

          But if they MUST be slaughtered, I suppose that NZ might as well earn that as spend it paying for the same mass killing.

  5. artcroft

     /  September 27, 2018

    I had to laugh at some tahr hunting advocate who was concerned that DOC might inadvertently wipe the tahr out during the cull. I think he needed a nice cup of coco and a lie down to help him gently ease back into reality.

    • Griff.

       /  September 27, 2018

      You are right there. Tahr are considered such a valuable trophy because they are so hard to stalk.

  6. robertguyton

     /  September 27, 2018

    ” tens of thousands of tahr ” says National’s Sarah Dowie – tens of thousands – 20 000, 30,000, 40, 000 …more???
    Your party set the limit at ONE thousand, Sarah! WHAT HAPPENED ???

  7. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  September 27, 2018

    What the hell was DoC and the NZ Conservation Authority and the Conservation Boards doing letting Tahr numbers swell like this?

    It’s all very well to blame the Nat Government… but we pay DoC staff to carry through the Policies they have passed. It might be time for a big shake-up of how Conservation is managed/ structured in NZ

    • robertguyton

       /  September 27, 2018

      “we pay DoC staff to carry through the Policies they have passed.”
      National did their level best to strangle DoC and render them ineffectual – yes, as you say,
      “It’s all very well to blame the Nat Government”

      • Maggy Wassilieff

         /  September 27, 2018

        I served on a Conservation Board for 5 years… It wasn’t lack of Money that strangled Doc.. it was poor leadership from their Head Office… and ultimately the incorrect model for running a Conservation Department.

        DoC didn’t need to employ loads of scientists in-house following their own pet projects for 20+ years.
        DoC put too much emphasis on “iconic” species… saving rare birds… at the expense of basic habitat protection and care of infrastructure (huts/tracks etc).

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  September 27, 2018

          I seem to remember hearing that before from people who were disillusioned with DOC’s way of doing things, It’s good to have it confirmed. as I had only vague memories of it and couldn’t remember details.

  8. Zedd

     /  September 27, 2018

    100% Pure.. B-S from Natl
    good onya Eugenie ! 🙂

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