Tahr decision keeps all sides happy

Mountain tahr have become a major threat to ecosystems in alpine areas, the Department of...
PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
A High Court judge appears to have kept all sides of the Himalayan tahr argument happy.

The Tahr Foundation, representing hunters, claimed a victory when Justice Robert Dobson ruled last night the Department of Conservation must consult it over its plan to eradicate tahr from the Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.

Forest and Bird expressed its satisfaction Justice Dobson ruled there was "no constraint on the types of tahr that may be controlled", meaning Doc could include in its cull bull tahr, prized by trophy hunters.

And Doc has been allowed to undertake half of its planned 250 hours of helicopter hunting while the consultation is going on.

Justice Dobson ruled Doc must "reconsider its decision" to proceed with its eradication plan, and either amend the plan or provide reasons for not doing so.

Tahr Foundation spokesman Willie Duley said the decision was a "a victory for common sense" which recognised "the considerable gaps" in Doc’s process, and the lack of consideration for stakeholders.

He believed it would "stop the decimation of the tahr herd and save jobs".

"Just as importantly, Justice Dobson recognised that recreational hunters are legitimate stakeholders and have the right to not only be properly consulted by Doc, but also have their views properly considered.

"Doc tried to ride roughshod over the commercial and recreational hunting sector and their token consultation was a sham."

He described the planned cull as a "senseless slaughter" and said the foundation was willing to work with Doc to come up with a "suitable tahr management plan".

Forest & Bird Canterbury-West Coast regional manager Nicky Snoyink was "pretty happy" with the part of the decision upholding Doc’s right to include bull tahr in the cull.

"It’s a good decision for the national parks from our perspective."

Ms Snoyink said it had been signalled to hunters for some time there were to be no tahr in the parks.

Doc operations director Dr Ben Reddiex was pleased Justice Dobson’s decision "successfully refuted all but one" of the foundation’s challenges — the "partial inadequacy" of Doc not providing the number of control hours it was proposing in a reasonable timeframe.

The plan had been to "remove" 7500 tahr over the next year, he said.

"The final level of control will be subject to consultation."

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