An issue that seems to have the nation polarised at the moment (a nice change from COVID) it what to do with all those tahr.
Tahr have been scrambling around our mountains for at least a century and a half, and their numbers have increased to around 35,000. According to the Department of Conservation (DOC).
See page 9 for a fuller rundown of this issue if you are interested.
On one side, we have DOC intent on reducing the size of the tahr population to within the boundaries of the Himalayan Tahr Control Plan (HTCP)1993 of a maximum of 10,000 animals.
They are backed strongly by the New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) which supports the DOC's Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020-2021. It gives full support to the implementation of the National Parks Act's policy of extermination of tahr, as far as possible, from the Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.
On the other side is the Tahr Foundation which has set up a petition to save the animal and this has been signed by tens of thousands of New Zealander's, all having put pen to paper for their own reasons, whatever they are.
The Tahr Foundation has really come out swinging, approaching the High Court for an interim injunction to stop the extermination campaign. It is backed by lots of commercial game hunters who see their livelihood going down the drain and a wealth of recreational hunters who just want something to fire their guns at.
The New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) strongly supports the DOC Tahr Control Operational Plan 2020-2021 and the National Parks Act's policy of exterminating tahr, as far as possible, from the Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks.
At the extreme end, Forest&Bird, as ever its feisty self, is seeking a declaration from the High Court that an operational plan to control tahr is illegal, and fails to meet the requirements for national parks and wilderness areas. They want all tahr gone, not just down to the last 10,000—all of them.
So what's the deal here?
For someone like me, who loves cats and hates the thought of any animal being shot, I'm with the 20, 000 who signed the Tahr Foundation petition in the first day to protect tahr as a national icon. Afterall they are beautiful wild animals that should be able to run free in the mountains. They should be allowed their space to live in peace.
But the other side of me wants the landscape of our mountains protected, and if tahr nibble native flora down to the roots and cause erosion with their sharp little hooves, then maybe they should go. So for me, this is a puzzle.
The Wānaka Sun would love your opinion on this, so don't hold forth on sending us a letter to the editor.
Correction: From Forest&Bird
"We are not at the extreme end of tahr control issues and do not want them to be exterminated entirely. In fact, we are asking for DOC to meet the legal requirements for tahr control, which is that tahr are not present in the two national parks, and for their numbers overall to be reduced to 10,000. Our issue is that DOC was deliberately leaving bull tahr in the national parks, specifically to provide for trophy hunters."
Read edition 982 of the Wānaka Sun here.