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NZDA Update: Tahr - High Court Decision

By New Zealand Deerstalkers Association

There have been many comments, news stories and rumours about the tahr cull and the High Court's judgement. 


Here is what we know - for a fact.


The Tahr Foundation was successful in its judicial review case at the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday. The case before the Hon. Justice Dobson was taken by The New Zealand Tahr Foundation v The Minister of Conservation.


Interestingly, Forest & Bird were also kindly given leave by the Tahr Foundation to appear and submit evidence.
NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow and National President, Trevor Chappell were present to view the day's events which started at 10.00am and closed after 5.30pm.  


In short Justice Dobson, deciding in favour of the Applicant, ordered DOC to re-consult with all stakeholders (which includes NZDA) but DOC can do some limited culling of tahr now.


The NZDA have maintained all along that we simply wanted to have reasonable input into DOC's decision and for our views, which represent recreational hunters' interests, to be given fair consideration.


The 1993 Himalayan Tahr Policy and Plan have recreational hunters at the foundation of tahr control measures in the tahr feral range and so DOC have a statutory obligation to facilitate that key role played by hunters in managing tahr.


“In short Justice Dobson, deciding in favour of the Applicant, ordered DOC to re-consult with all stakeholders (which includes NZDA) but DOC can do some limited culling of tahr now.”


NZDA are, and always have been, keen to be an important part of the solution and work in partnership with DOC. Therefore NZDA welcomes the opportunity for further consultation with DOC regarding the 2020/21 tahr management plan.


The judgement also gives clear guidelines to DOC regarding how it must undertake its consultation processes and the NZDA supports this because it sets everyone's expectations around what is meant by "consultation".  


What did the judgment say?

In effect Justice Dobson ordered more consultation to be undertaken by DOC and for DOC to produce a ‘reasoned decision’, however Justice Dobson is not setting aside or quashing the 2020/21 plan.


Specifically, Justice Dobson directed: 

  1. DOC to reconsider its decision to proceed with the 2020-2021 plan after consulting with interests represented by the Tahr Foundation and other stakeholders.
  2. DOC is to give reasonable time and notice prior to meetings and issuing information to stakeholders. 
  3. DOC is to produce a reasoned decision reflecting its reconsideration for either amending aspects of the 2020-2021 plan, or providing reasons for not doing so. 
  4. DOC can fly up to 125 hours (down from 250 in the plan). 
  5. Control conditions, while further consultation occurs, are:
  • DOC can control tahr outside the feral range.
  • Inside the management units, hours can be allocated as DOC sees fit across the seven units.
  • No constraints are on the types of tahr (bulls or nannies/kids) that may be controlled within national parks - i.e. bulls can be killed. Note that DOC is not targeting bulls inside the management units.


What does this mean?

NZDA will engage with DOC. Our aim is to work with DOC to ensure the plan reflects a sustainable outcome that will allow recreational hunters to hunt tahr on public land - for the most part our members and recreational hunters only have access to public land and the tahr living there.


This fact needs to be included in the fine detail of all operational plans. NZDA would like to see targeted culling by DOC that reduces numbers in those areas we can all agree are over populated or inaccessible to recreational hunters.


NZDA would like to see a commonsense approach taken that is “win-win” for our alpine ecosystem and recreational hunting opportunities so valued by hunters.


NZDA encourages our members to keep supporting the Tahr Foundation, including supporting its fundraising activities because its legal action is costly.   


To donate to the Givealittle page, click here


To sign the petition, click here (do not donate here). 


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