Forest & Bird 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.
“Too many fragile alpine environments continue to be decimated by tahr, including in Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks,” says Forest & Bird West Coast and Canterbury Regional Manager Nicky Snoyink.
“Bull tahr are being deliberately left in National Parks, where there is supposed to be no tahr at all. We think that's illegal.”
The 1993 Himalayan Tahr Control Plan set the total allowed tahr population in the central South Island mountains at 10,000 animals. Work by the Department of Conservation has instead shown that the population on public conservation land is instead around 35,000.
“The population is simply out of control. National parks are being sacrificed for elite trophy hunters,” says Ms Snoyink.
"And instead of getting the work needed done, the last two years of operational plans have provided no certainty that the number of animals will be reduced in any meaningful way,” says Ms Snoyink.
“We’ve applied to the court because we want an operational plan that meets the legal requirements, that prioritises protection and restoration of fragile ecosystems and that demonstrates how tahr numbers will be meaningfully reduced quickly.”
“New Zealanders love our high country landscapes, but they are under threat in so many ways: from land clearance and development to climate change and pest invasions. This is one urgent problem we can fix simply by complying with the law.”