Hunters won't cull tahr mothers
The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association refused to cull female tahr with young at foot in the Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park last year, despite a request from the Department of Conservation (DOC).
The NZDA made a stand, stating it was against the group's ethics to kill females which were heavily pregnant or when their offspring were still feeding, from November to January. Three NZDA branches still participated in last year's cull but circumvented the DOC request to kill all tahr by focusing on bull males.
This year DOC has rewritten its control plans to appease NZDA.
DOC acting Waimakariri area manager Mark Beardsley said the spring hunting period was based on hunting records "which show that this is the period when hunters on the ground were most effective".
"It has been shortened by nearly a month in response to NZDA concerns about hunting during the kid drop and hunter feedback on last year's organised hunt," Mr Beardsley said.
DOC's own culling activities focused on female tahr.
It is estimated that in the Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park there is an average density of less than one tahr per square kilometre. The park covers about 70sqkm, about the size of 7000 rugby fields.
Hunters benefit from the animals' food, skin and trophy heads but DOC's target density is nil or as low as practicable.
NZDA national president Tim McCarthy said tahr had no predators, so they quickly got out of control.
"They either have an accident, die of old age, or are shot," Mr McCarthy said.
All recreational hunters are being offered the opportunity by DOC to hunt tahr and are given additional landing rights in the national park.
Aerial-assisted shooting concerns Mr McCarthy, who said recreational hunters often chose trophy animals ahead of females or chased tahr in a helicopter until they were too tired to run.
"It's not a level playing field," Mr McCarthy said.
Most hunters had to walk days to get to remote places, while helicopters could get in quickly and disturb the whole area, Mr McCarthy said.
Mr Beardsley said DOC needed to utilise a range of control methods, including the aerial one.
"Aerial operators must abide by conditions that prohibit hazing or harassment of wild animals."
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