Thursday, December 7, 2023

Lessees can be forced to cull tahr

Neal Wallace
High-Country pastoral lessees could be drawn into the contentious tahr cull issue with plans for a population survey on Crown pastoral lease land later this year.
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Federated Farmers high-country committee past chairman Simon Williamson believes lease terms will force some landowners to cull tahr.

The Conservation Department has begun a major cull in Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks but operations director Dr Ben Reddiex says it is not eradication.

“The vast majority of commercial hunting takes place on Crown pastoral lease and private land.

“Outside of the national parks there will continue to be thousands of bulls and other tahr for hunters across more than 425,000ha of public conservation land.” 

Williamson, a Tahr Liaison Group member, agrees numbers must be cut.

But he thinks the cull should targeted areas where numbers are excessive or areas foot hunters cannot access instead of focusing on the two national parks.

“They should have spent the money where tahr are outside their feral range and where numbers are high.”

DOC and Land Information are working with pastoral leaseholders to get accurate numbers tahr on pastoral land.

“We were due to carry out an aerial survey of 30 pastoral leases within the tahr feral range earlier this year but this was postponed due to covid-19 and is now expected to take place later this year,” Reddiex said.

LINZ Crown property deputy chief executive Jerome Sheppard says lessees are responsible for controlling tahr.

If numbers get too high then they have to be controlled. The population count will determine if that is the case.

Williamson says he has heard talk of limiting tahr numbers to 2.5 a square kilometre, a level that is too low for trophy hunting and needlessly creating anger and frustration.

“I think DOC are in a hard spot.

“The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has put them there and is really causing a lot of angst.”

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