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Too Many Tahr, High Court Says

Forest & Bird is pleased Friday’s High Court ruling on the introduced tahr population control is clear - Himalayan tahr must be reduced to 10,000 animals, removed entirely from National Parks, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) can get started immediately.

The High Court judge was clear is his opinion, stating in paragraph 88 “I am satisfied that quashing the decision to adopt the [tahr control] plan would be disproportionate and is not warranted”.

Download the full decision here.

Forest & Bird spokesperson Nicky Snojink says “The High Court's ruling means DOC can begin their planned cull without delay, that DOC are to stop leaving bull tahr in national parks for trophy hunters, and there is not to be more than 10,000 tahr overall”.

“We welcome the Tahr Foundation’s support of this decision, especially keeping the tahr population at 10,000, as noted in the ruling “Mr Hodder [for the Foundation] sought to deflect such concerns by submitting that the Foundation does not resist a move towards a total herd of 10,000 tahr.” [Para 90]

While the control plan proceeds, DOC is to have an additional period of discussion with the Tahr Liaison Group, of which Forest & Bird is a member.

"Forest & Bird has been warning for many years that the Himalayan tahr population is out of control. This ruling confirms that tahr control is well overdue, and they must be removed entirely from National Parks, in accordance with the law. There will still be plenty of tahr for hunting, just not in our national parks, which exist for native species not for bull tahr or trophy hunters.”

The judge says in para 86 “I am not persuaded that there is any relevant circumstance that requires DoC to exempt bull tahr located within national parks”.

Forest & Bird also welcomes the judge’s statement that “Promotion of the tahr hunting industry, or any statutory obligation to protect it, is clearly not an end in itself… In current circumstances, control is not left to the hunting industry because all projections of the number of tahr are substantially above that maximum [ of 10,000 animals]. In those circumstances, official control constitutes culling by DoC to get the number down near the 10,000 maximum.”

Ms Snoyink says “Most of New Zealand’s alpine plants only live here in NZ, but they're just a quick snack to these hungry goat herds. DOC estimates that there were 34,292 tahr on public conservation from 2016 – 2018. That number could be much higher by now.

“New Zealand has 4000 native species staring down the barrel of extinction, many of them in alpine habitat. Nature needs us to look after it, and one way we can do that is by reducing tahr numbers in our precious mountain ecosystems.”

Forest & Bird note the judges final statement “…the Foundation has justified costs at a relatively modest portion of 2B scale, given the extent to which DoC has successfully refuted challenges on a much wider basis."

Forest & Bird on tahr on social media

Read the Department of Conservation’s factsheet on tahr here.

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