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An interim injunction to stop the imminent cull of more than 17,000 tahr will be sought, if Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage does not reconsider her decision to go ahead.
Ms Sage’s policies on protecting New Zealand’s flora and fauna are coming under increasing scrutiny as outdoors’ organisations mobilise members to resist Department of Conservation (Doc) proposals on several fronts.
Doc plans to begin culling Himalayan mountain tahr in the next fortnight, claiming their numbers had exploded to 35,000, three times over their limit, and mobs were destroying high country plant species and adding to erosion problems.
There has been no consultation with any stakeholders over the decision.
Gordon George, of the Tahr Foundation, said Ms Sage’s plan was not workable, Doc had not consulted on it and it was clear Ms Sage had a "different understanding of democracy to the rest of the country".
"We’re not saying there does not need to be some reduction, but this is eradication in disguise, not population control.
"This whole proposal smacks of indigenous fundamentalist ideology," he said in a statement.
Mr George said lawyers acting for the Tahr Foundation was serving a letter on Doc, notifying it if it did not put a stay on the cull and carry out consultation, then an interim injunction would be sought, as part of a judicial review.
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"Doc’s own science they are basing the cull on has been hastily gathered, is statistically shaky, and puts the population at anywhere between 17,000 and 50,000," Mr George said. On top of the 3000 recently culled by Doc, he said it was proposing to cull another 17,500 outside Mt Cook and Westland National Parks, plus all the tahr inside the National Parks.
"This is potentially 25,000 to 30,000 tahr, when the population may well be as low as 20,000," Mr George said.
Doc’s control plan was "ill-conceived and ill-thought out and will wreck businesses and recreational hunting, totally unnecessarily", he said.
Doc was quoting the 25-year-old Himalayan Tahr Control Plan from 1993, which was supposed to have been reviewed after five years, but never was.
"It’s well past its best-by date and isn’t fit for purpose," Mr George said.
The hunting sector was collectively developing an alternative control proposal which would reduce tahr numbers in a co-ordinated and scientifically based manner, without destroying the resource, he said.
"Over three years we can reduce the population without destroying the multimillion-dollar industry that relies on it, nor the recreation of thousands of New Zealanders."