Ground hunters are being tested this summer on the west coast as the Conservation Department continues to manage tahr populations.
The Himalayan tahr is a wild animal found in the Southern Alps at Te Waipounamu and introduced to Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park in 1904.
Tahr has had a control plan since 1993, to ensure the population remains low enough not to negatively impact native flora and fauna.
Data from a 2019 DOC survey estimated that there were around 35,000 tahr in protected land today.
Tom Brookman, head of the DOC tahr program, said the use of professional hunters in New Zealand was not a completely new idea.
“There is actually a long and rich history of professional hunters controlling or harvesting wildlife, whether for DOC or previously the Forest Service and also commercial operators … However, I guess most of the control of the tahr was carried out from helicopters. ”he said.
DOC traditionally uses a helicopter (or air control) method to bring down the tahr due to the rugged terrain of the Alps and the ability to spot animals in the snow.
Brookman said tahrs generally occupy the alpine clump environment above the bush line, but that is changing.
“Lately, more and more observations suggest that the tahr, especially on the west coast … increasingly occupy areas of scrub and subalpine forest. Is less effective.”
He described the method as “old-fashioned” and said the hunters would be DOC staff or professional pest controllers.
“In the trial, we will be looking to see if this can increase our efficiency in these particular environments. [Westland bush] either as a stand-alone tool or in conjunction with helicopter work. “
Brookman assured that the recreational hunters’ helicopter methods were completed for the year and would not spoil any summer hunting trip.
Tahr control plans are drawn up each year with the Tahr Plan Implementation Liaison Group (TPILG).
“TPILG is a stakeholder group that provides referrals to DOC from across the hunting industry, conservation groups, other interested groups and most importantly our partners in Te Tiriti de Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Brookman said.
The results of the trial are expected before the next publication of the annual plan in July 2022.