Hunting & Fishing New Zealand Calls For Genuine Government Consultation Over Tahr Cull
New Zealand’s largest outdoor recreation retailer, Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, today called on the Government to get back around the table and genuinely work with the hunting community to develop a pragmatic and long-term solution for the management of the South Island’s tahr population.
Hunting & Fishing New Zealand Chief Executive Darren Jacobs says it is extremely disappointing that a lack of consultation has once again required legal action, with the Tahr Foundation seeking an injunction this week in the High Court to stop a widespread cull due to start on 1 July.
“This is the second time in less than two years that hunting groups have had to take court action to stop plans for an extreme tahr cull and force the Government back around the table to talk with hunting groups, and other interested parties, to develop a collaborative approach to managing the tahr population,” says Jacobs.
“Genuine consultation should not require court action. This Government needs to stop looking at hunters as the enemy and instead see them as part of the solution when it comes to tahr. We all agree that New Zealand’s tahr population needs to be controlled, but this can be done in a way that protects commercial hunting interests as well as the enjoyment of recreational hunters.”
Jacobs says the Department of Conservation’s latest plans would see a tripling of the number of helicopter hours to kill tahr, no agreed limits on the number of tahr to be culled, and the elimination of tahr (including bulls) from Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.
“It’s no overstatement to say that these culling plans would have a devastating impact on the country’s commercial tahr hunting businesses at the very time they are struggling to cope with the economic impact of COVID-19. Commercial tahr hunting injects at least $17 million directly to New Zealand’s economy and contributes significantly more indirectly, providing valuable jobs in our southern communities,” says Jacobs.
“All we ask is for the Government to engage openly and transparently with the sector and develop a collaborative tahr management plan that aims to control the number of female and juvenile tahr, and provides opportunities for commercial and recreational hunters to control bull tahr, which are considered a trophy animal.
“This approach has worked well in the past, with the tahr population being reduced by more than 18,000 in the last three years through official control, commercial and recreational hunting. There is now a breeding nanny population of only about 5,000,” explains Jacobs.
“Rather than the wholesale elimination of tahr from our national parks, where they have been for over 100 years, the Government should be working collaboratively with the hunting sector to control breeding populations and encouraging recreational hunters to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
“Unfortunately, this Government’s approach appears to be driven more by ideology than science and we are seeing once again attempts to bulldoze through plans with no meaningful consultation and to the detriment of New Zealand’s hunting community.”