[21 September/Rural Life]

Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, proposal to cull at least 17,500 Himalayan mountain tahr has outraged some some hunters in Otago. The announcement could be challenged in court. Culling of the tahr would start within two weeks. Ms Sage proposed to kill 10,000 animals in areas in the Southern Alps over the next eight months. The estimated population of 35,000 was three times what was permitted by the Himalayan Tahr Control Plan. She added they could potentially damage and wipe out the native plants they feed on. She noted erosion of soils at altitude had also increased. She believed even after the cull there would be enough tahr to sustain guided hunting and tourism ventures. The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association President, Bill O’Leary, said it would join in the culling, however it was rushed and based on slender evidence. Dunedin hunter, Grant Dodson, added the cull was wasteful and an appalling move. Forest & Bird noted the skyrocketing tahr numbers proved hunting organisations could not adequately control the population.