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DOC Update: Tahr Control Detail Finalised for 2020/21

By Department of Conservation

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has met with the Game Animal Council to discuss where Himalayan tahr control operations will be undertaken this year.


DOC recently released its reconsidered Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/21. The Game Animal Council has since provided advice to DOC on where the remaining 77 hours of planned control outside the national parks’ management unit could be undertaken.


Operations Director Dr Ben Reddiex says DOC and the Game Animal Council considered two years of operational data, observations from DOC staff and contractors, as well as advice from tahr stakeholders.


After a very positive discussion with the Game Animal Council, DOC has finalised where the remainder of tahr control will be undertaken this year to protect unique alpine ecosystems and ensure plenty of hunting opportunities remain.


Outside of the national parks’ management unit, DOC is reallocating some of the 77 remaining control hours to target less accessible areas of the feral range.


“The Game Animal Council has since provided advice to DOC on where the remaining 77 hours of planned control outside the national parks’ management unit could be undertaken.


Animal numbers can easily build up in the dense, rugged and scrubby West Coast terrain which is less suitable for ground hunting. For example, we are still regularly finding groups of up to 30 tahr in the Landsborough where access is challenging. We need to protect native ecosystems from the impacts of high tahr densities.


We are reducing our previously planned control hours within the South Rakaia and Upper Rangitata management unit which is favoured by hunters. We have completed control for the year in the Wills/Makarora/Hunter management unit where tahr numbers are at relatively low densities.


Outside the national parks’ management unit, DOC is avoiding popular hunting spots and huts, and is instead focusing on less accessible locations where tahr have built up into high densities.


Dr Ben Reddiex is reminding hunters this is a targeted control programme and there is no plan to eradicate Himalayan tahr from New Zealand.


Within the feral range, and outside of the national parks’ management unit, we’re only targeting high densities of female and juvenile tahr. We’re also avoiding areas around huts and the ballot landing sites.


We will continue to leave identifiable male tahr for hunters outside of the national parks’ management unit. Plans are also progressing to improve hunter access where possible, including extending the popular tahr ballot.”


“Dr Ben Reddiex is reminding hunters this is a targeted control programme and there is no plan to eradicate Himalayan tahr from New Zealand.


DOC will continue to update its website with the latest control data and will make it clear once control within a management unit is complete for the year. “Hunters will know with certainty once DOC has moved on. Hunters can also use maps on the DOC website to identify hot spots where identifiable males have been observed during control operations and left behind.


Over July and August, DOC completed 118 hours of aerial control throughout the feral range. As well as the 77 hours discussed with the Game Animal Council, DOC is undertaking a further 55 hours in the national parks’ management unit.


We’re also concerned about the geographical spread of tahr, which is why we are targeting the northern and southern points of the feral range. This will be complemented by 145 hours of planned control in the exclusion zones and outside the feral range,” says Dr Ben Reddiex.



04 496 1911


Background information:

Himalayan tahr webpages: 


Changes to the control programme include:


Himalayan Tahr Management Units
Management Units (MU) Total planned hours within the Tahr Control Operational Plan for 2020/21: Approximate hours completed between July and August 2020: Approximate remaining hours to be completed:
MU 1: South Rakaia - Upper Rangitata 25 12 4
MU 2: South Whitcombe - Whataroa 25 12.5 23
MU 3: Gammack/Two Thumb 20 11 9
MU 5: Ben Ohau 10 5 9
MU 6: Landsborough  40 20 30
MU 7: Wills/Makarora/Hunter 20 3.5 0


Map of the Management Units and their locations:


Tahr Control Operations update and links to the decision documents:


  • The Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993 (HTCP) is a statutory document made under section 5(1)(d) of the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. 
  • DOC’s annual Operational Plan identifies how it will implement the HTCP, which sets a maximum population of 10,000 tahr across 706,000 ha of private land, Crown pastoral leases and public conservation land.
  • Between 2019 and Autumn 2019, the tahr population was estimated to be approximately 34,500 tahr on public conservation land alone. DOC, commercial hunters and contractors controlled approximately 11,000 tahr between July to November last year. There has since been another breeding season.
  • DOC has released the results of 118 hours of search and control inside the feral range since mid-July. Approximately 4,700 tahr have been controlled on public conservation land.


Tahr controlled:

  • 2,750 female and juvenile tahr that have been controlled across less than 15% of 425,000 ha of public conservation land (this is the public conservation land located outside the national parks). Outside the national parks’ Management Unit, DOC is only targeting high densities and is not targeting identifiable males. Group sizes have generally ranged between 10 to 30 animals. Smaller groups of tahr are being left for hunters in these areas.
  • 1,950 tahr have been controlled from the Aoraki/Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks Management Unit to protect these special places.


Management Unit 4 (national parks) is the only location inside the feral range where DOC is targeting all tahr. Identifiable males will not be targeted anywhere else.


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