Consultation leads to tahr cull concessions

After belated consultation with hunting groups it appears that concessions have been granted by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage on tahr cull plans.

RNZ (21 September): Tahr population out of control

There’s concern not enough is being done to control Tahr in New Zealand.

Numbers of the Himalayan tahr have shot up, the population is now five times what it should be, which could threaten our native alpine ecosystems.

A plan has been proposed to reduce the population, but hunting organisations are opposed to it.

To explain the situation, we’re joined by Forest & Bird’s Regional Manager for Canterbury, Nicky Snoyink.

Your NZ (27 September): 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.

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

RNZ (28 September): Bid to take government to court over Tahr cull plans

A fighting fund of $145,325 has been raised through Givealittle to pay for lawyers, if talks between the government and the hunting sector, set for Monday, do not go well.

The cull is opposed by the National Party as well as by hunters, and there is even confusion about when it will start.

But the Minister for Conservation has given parliament details about how it will happen, with the animals herded into groups with helicopters, and then killed with shotguns.

Eugenie Sage was answering a question from the National Party MP Todd McClay about slaughter by helicopter-borne hunters.

“I have not instructed the Department [of Conservation] to do that,” she told MPs.

“But the department will be using aerial control, it needs to do the control operation now, and yes it will be using shotguns in the same way that hunters use guns to kill Tahr themselves. ”

Ms Sage said the operation had to be done quickly before a new breeding season started.

RNZ (2 October): Hunting lobby wins concessions over tahr cull

A meeting was held yesterday between Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and hunting groups including the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and the Game Animal Council as well as conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, and iwi Ngāi Tahu with the hunting industry emerging confident at the outcome.

The hunting fraternity say Ms Sage has pulled back from positions which the industry had found unacceptable and forced her to re-think plans to cull 10,000 Himalayan Tahr from the Southern Alps.

Former president of the Deerstalkers Association Bill O’Leary told RNZ that a draft operational plan was agreed on at the meeting which would reduce the number of tahr to be killed – but he did not give a number.

He said it was agreed that the original plan put out by the Department of Conservation was not fit for purpose and needed modification, including the number of animals that would be culled.

“The agreement as such was not so much that they had to be reduced, which we all agree on, as by how many and where and who would do the job,” Mr O’Leary said.

He also said there would be changes to the locations of the cull and a reduction in the numbers of males to be killed, which would preserve horned tahr for trophy hunters.

Mr O’Leary said the meeting was productive and attended by virtually everyone with an interest in tahr, with a set of general principles being agreed to.

Initially Ms Sage had proposed culling 10,000 tahr over the next eight months, but she said last night that DOC had taken on an adaptive management approach, and would cull 6000 over the next six weeks.

Ms Sage said this would be reviewed after the summer, but that DOC still had a commitment to cull 10,000 tahr by the end of July.

She also said DOC would not be targeting bull tahr outside of national parks.

Ms Sage said there are an estimated 35,000 tahr on public conservation land and the original Himalayan Tahr Control Plan forged back in 1993 was to limit the numbers to 10,000.

It may be that Sage is learning that consultation as a Green MP/environmental activist is quite different to the wider considerations and consultation required of a Minister. It is good to see that she has been prepared to listenand act on concerns.


  1. robertguyton

     /  2nd October 2018

    Tahr cull to go ahead. Total target of 10, 000 animals maintained. Sage succeeds in galvanising the tardy hunting fraternity into action. Hunters committed to taking out horned tahr on private land, as they were…previously.

    • Gezza

       /  2nd October 2018

      Kudos to Eugenie Sage. She has managed this situation well.

  2. Ray

     /  2nd October 2018

    I have to say I just don’t get this.
    For some reason it has been decided the tahr are allowed to have a population of 10,000.
    The population has increased to 3 or 4 times this number and while there is dispute on just how many this is, it was way over the agreed population.
    The hunters have not been able to keep the population down but aren’t happy that the Minister decided to cull to that number.
    So what’s the problem?

    I speak as someone who has been a hunter and a working knowledge of pest control and the dynamics of animal numbers.
    And even more scary is I suggest Robert and I will be on the same page on this.

    • robertguyton

       /  2nd October 2018

      I’m taking a moment, Ray 🙂
      It would be interesting to hear from the hunting fraternity, if in fact they had assumed or been given responsibility for keeping the numbers at 10, 000, why they hadn’t managed it. If in fact they’d failed to do so, their push-back, funded through the rapidly-arriving donations as the result of Eugenie statement of intent, is an example of muscle-flexing as practiced by lobby groups like the Federated Farmers or the trucking industry who see democracy in a different light to those who don’t employ those techniques. Personally, I reckon it’s the high-end trophy-hunting-from-a-chopper guys and their high-paying clients that caused the ruckus, ‘coz MONEY.

    • artcroft

       /  2nd October 2018

      I’m disappointed National is pandering to a small minority on this one as well. Especially as the decision is reasonable should be uncontroversial.

  3. Patzcuaro

     /  2nd October 2018

    If DOC wants to reduce numbers, the best way would be for them to cull females and leave the males for the trophy hunters.

    In general hunters have little incentive to manage a population down.

  4. PartisanZ

     /  2nd October 2018

    New Zealand’s ‘gun lobbyists’ and preppers, many American, flex their muscles … Agree with Robert above …