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In a new turn of events, the New Zealand Tahr Foundation has secured pledges from at least 11 of the major ammunition importers and manufacturers around the country that they will not sell the Department of Conservation the estimated 100,000 rounds of ammunition it would need for Ms Sage’s contentious tahr cull.
The Taupo hunting event organisers said Ms Sage’s attendance could pose a "challenging environment" but they are hopeful the up to 6000 hunters and their families attending will "remain respectful and civil" towards her.
Ms Sage is under fire on several fronts, with her widespread use of 1080 poison across the country to eradicate possums, but most recently her decision to cull 17,500 introduced Himalayan mountain tahr in the mid to lower South Island regions of the Southern Alps.
Ms Sage said large tahr mobs are destroying the alpine environment, while hunters want culls to be managed and not indiscriminate. That cull was to start this weekend, but has been postponed until after Ms Sage meets hunting groups next week.
She remains adamant the tahr cull will go ahead.
By late yesterday more than $146,000 had been pledged to the Tahr Foundation, which may yet mount a legal challenge against Ms Sage’s culling programme.
Event organiser Mark Bridgman-McMillan said although Ms Sage’s intention to appear at such short notice was a surprise, his team was neutral when it comes to politics.
"As an organisation, we strongly believe in protecting the sustainability of our New Zealand hunting resources and in constructive dialogue," he said.
Others expected to attend include Minister of Police Stuart Nash, National MPs Chris Bishop and Todd McClay and representatives from The New Zealand Outdoors Party.