Department of Conservation hits tahr culling target

The Department of Conservation (DoC) says it has hit its target of culling 10,000 Himalayan tahrs in the South Island, a week before their deadline expired.

DoC wanted to get tahr numbers down because they say a population explosion has seen the introduced species damaging pristine alpine areas.

It has been working since March to reduce the numbers after they reached 35,000 across the area known as the "feral range". 

"At this stage as of Saturday we've controlled just on 10,000 animals," says James Holborow, DoC's tahr control programme lead.

The programme was meant to start in October last year but was postponed when tragedy struck - the first DoC crew heading out to undertake the work were killed in a helicopter crash near Wanaka.

Holborow says it's been crucially important to get the tahr numbers down because of the damage they're causing to alpine vegetation like the Mount Cook lily.

"The control effort this year has been a collaboration of a number of parties -  there's been ground hunters, aerially assisted trophy hunting executioners, there's been some wild animal recovery operators, and then four DoC teams working across the Motu," says Holborow. 

A plan on how to best manage the Tahr population in the future will be announced shortly.