Hunters fear Himalayan tahr cull in South Island could damage industry

Hunters fear being penalised if they help the Department of Conservation cull Himalayan tahr, an imported kind of mountain goat that is destroying alpine vegetation.

Around 17,000 tahr could be killed, as the number of them is spilling beyond the limits of control. But Big Game Hunting owner Ben Tumata says hunters are well placed to help, and that the DoC should be working with them.

"They're out there on the hills, they're seeing exactly what's going on. Why not work with these guys and say, 'Can you clear traps for us, can you look after this area?'," he told Newshub.

Mr Tumata says the cull will have flow-on effects for businesses, and that hunting stores, for example, will suffer if the population of tahr gets too low.

"The likes of hunting stores, importers, the people that are selling products to hunters, helicopter operators, are all going to see a massive downturn in business."

The DoC says the tahr population needs to go down urgently as it is sitting above levels permitted under the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.

"The population of tahr across the mountains of the South Island is probably three or four times higher than the limits of the plan that's been around for a while, so we need to bring that number back under control," said DoC Otago and Southland area manager Andy Roberts.

The DoC and stakeholders have agreed to keep around 10,000 tahr in the area.

Newshub.