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Urgent Thar Cull Needed On Pastoral Lease Lands

December 10, 2003 - Christchurch

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Urgent thar cull needed on pastoral lease lands

Forest and Bird is calling for an urgent aerial cull to reduce Himalayan thar numbers on pastoral leases in the South Canterbury high country.

"High country leaseholders and the Department of Conservation need to organise the aerial cull to implement the Thar Plan and reduce thar numbers. The current control methods of recreational and guided hunting are obviously inadequate," Forest and Bird field officer, Tony Lockwood said.

"The Thar Control Plan is a statutory plan prepared by the department under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. It sets limits on population numbers of thar in different parts of the central Southern Alps to protect alpine plants and ecosystems," he said.

"Recent population estimates by the Department of Conservation (DoC) put thar numbers on some pastoral leases in the Two Thumb and Ben McLeod Ranges area at over twice the acceptable density permitted by the department's Thar Control Plan," he said.

"Thar numbers in this area have been rising over several years, despite repeated assurances by the department that it is addressing the issue with pastoral lessees. More effective action is needed.

"Thar damage sensitive high country vegetation through browsing and trampling. Snow tussocks and other native grasses make up 55% of thar diet. Many flowering species including the mountain buttercups are also vulnerable to thar browsing,"

"High numbers of thar on pastoral leases can spill-over onto adjacent conservation and unoccupied Crown lands, harming conservation values as well as tussock grasslands and native vegetation on pastoral leases."

Ends

Notes

The Thar Control Plan divides the feral range of thar into eight management units. Management Unit 3A includes the Two Thumb and Ben McLeod Ranges. Ninety percent of the management unit is Crown land leased to farmers under the Crown Pastoral Lands Act Pastoral lessees are responsible for managing pests on this land.

The Thar Plan has a maximum permitted population of 2.0 thar per sq. km for Management Unit 3A. The current population estimate is 4.75 thar per sq. km, which is over twice the permitted density of thar.

Contact: Tony Lockwood, Field Officer, 03 366 0655 (h), 03 388 7491 (h) Eugenie Sage, South Island Regional Field Officer, 03 366 6317 (w), 03 942 1251(h)

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