1400 tahr culled from South Westland National Park

Himalayan tahr. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Himalayan tahr. Photo: ODT files

By Lois Williams, Local Democracy Reporter

The Department of Conservation is about a third of the way through its planned tahr control programme for the year, with most of its efforts focused this winter on the West Coast.

A report to the Tai Poutini West Coast Conservation Board shows DOC hunters have flown 60 of the 195 hours budgeted for the annual aerial cull.

The Himalayan mountain goat numbers have to be kept as low as possible in national parks because of their destructive impact on tussock and mountain plant habitat, and all tahr inside park boundaries are targeted in the annual cull.

But outside the Aoraki-Mt Cook and Westland National Parks, DOC leaves the big male animals prized by trophy hunters. It focuses instead on reducing herd numbers and keeping them within a defined feral range across thousands of hectares of public conservation land.

DOC operations director in Wellington Ben Reddiex says more than 100 tahr were shot this year outside the feral range, to the north.

Staff were still collating overall numbers but 1400 animals had been shot in the Westland National Park so far, Dr Reddiex said.

"We will be putting out maps showing identifiable male tahr sightings on our website later this week to help hunters plan their next trip and we'll be doing a review of the control operation to date with the Game Animal Council at the mid-point, later this month."

The tahr carcases are not recovered and there have been concerns about the risk to kea which feast on them, sometimes consuming lead shot in the process.

But DOC no longer uses lead ammunition, a spokesman said in an update for conservation boards this month.

The change to non-lead buckshot struck a glitch last year when it was found the lighter shell cases had hit helicopter tail rotors a couple of times, leaving grooves.

Experts advised there was no safety risk but the shell cases could cause costly damage to the rotor blades.

The problem had been resolved by modifying the shotguns used in the tahr cull to change the shell ejection pattern, DOC reported.

Add a Comment

drivesouth-pow-generic-1.png

 

Advertisement

postanote_header_620_x_80.png

postanote_620_x_25.jpg

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter