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Sticky Topic Tahr Liasion Group Minutes 31st August 2012 (Read 7890 times)
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Tahr Liasion Group Minutes 31st August 2012
Oct 25th, 2012 at 3:42pm
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Notes as requested.

Himalayan Tahr Interest Group (TIG)

Notes from the meeting held in Christchurch, 31 August 2012

Chair:  Neville Cunningham

Note taker: Terry Farrell

Bob Richmond, Garry Ottmann, David Hodder, Terry Farrell, Shane Cross, Neil Bolton, , Neville Cunningham, Hackey Sims, Snow Hewetson, Kevin Milne, Euan Kennedy, Don Aubrey, Marcus Pinney, Kevin Milne, Jenny Williams, Harvey Hutton, Gary Herbert.

James Scott, John Lyall, Mike Cuddihy, Mark Beardsley, Paul Martin

Agenda Items:
1.      2011-12 tahr records
2.      2012-13 operation plans
3.      TIG culls
4.      Tahr ballot programme
5.      Observers of aerial culls

Meeting commenced 9.30am

1. 2011-12 tahr culls
Records of 2011-12 tahr culls tabled. A few records still to come in i.e. AATH take.

Some discussion around the trend information that these records can provide. The ground counts that were done several years ago were abandoned as quite expensive and only sampled small areas and are not able to be extrapolated to management unit scale. Other trends that can be used are kills per unit effort as the inputs remain fairly constant.
Recreational hunter returns discussed. The DOC permit system does not provide a good mechanism for returning records. The ballot hunter returns furnish less than 50% returns and ideas to improve this were considered. The use of phone surveys may be expanded as one to one contact is seen as a useful tool.

The value of returns is regarded as limited by DOC staff. While interesting to know who has done what and where it’s the remaining animal density and level of damage to ecosystems that is the main measure we should be looking at.   

2. 2012-13 Operations
Otago, Canterbury and West Coast all tabled their operational plans. 

AATH concessionaire rep provided an overview of where he saw AATH offset culls fitting into the DOC and other planned culls. The following points were discussed:
•      AATH want to develop a good relationship with DOC and essential that both parties have confidence in each other.
•      The AATH offset cull programme is managed out of the Twizel office.
•      Overall AATH offset cull target is around 1500. There are 5 operators providing culls based on the trophy take they had last season.
•      AATH culls will have a DOC person observing 
•      The AATH permit requires 5 culls for each tahr and chamois trophy taken
•      The value of offset culls is capped to prevent cost over runs being incurred if insufficient tahr can be located within a reasonable timeframe. 
•      Offset culls can also be converted into other animal pest operational activity using the $1400/7 trophy formula i.e Otago are using this to locate Judas tahr in SEZ
•      AATH would prefer their culls to be replacement for DOC operations and,
•      AATH members are concerned that if their contributions are additional to DOC culls then the wider hunting fraternity will criticise AATH for excessive culling.
•      Otago and Canterbury budgets have reduced this year so any AATH culls will be regarded as replacement.
•      On the West Coast AATH culls are additional as they are implementing a tahr cull catch up programme mainly in MU6 and MU4a. This follows several years of lower budgets and insufficient culling.
•      Agreed that we would include MU6, MU4a and other Canterbury sites for AATH offset culls. The MU6 sites areas are closer to the helicopter base so this should be more cost effective.  It is likely there will be additional DOC culls over these same units but after AATH.   
•      AATH wanted clarification whether the DOC culls are an annual target. This point was discussed and DOC explained that the amount of culling that is done each year is related to previous observations of tahr numbers, site impacts and available budget and is not a target. Improving or maintaining ecological condition is the objective for tahr culls not a cull target.

The group agreed that a press release explaining the AATH cull programme and relationship to current programme would be essential. This should also explain the objectives for tahr culls generally. 

Action: Neil Bolton and P.A. Staff to arrange press release on AATH cull programme

3. TIG Culls
The TIG hunters agreed to survey 8 new sites associated with the balloted tahr hunts in the Adams wilderness area. These new sites have been selected based on location and relationship to existing tahr camp sites to provide better coverage, more hunting opportunities and more effective localised tahr control.

The objective of a summer survey is to confirm tahr numbers, identify access issues, water supplies, any other site issues, hazards or opportunities to improve them. This information will be provided to ballot hunters. Members will also be asked to collect some ecological data a while at these sites. DOC will provide some contributions to access costs. There may be some culling done if localised herds appear excessive.

Action: Terry to liaise with James Scott over costs.  DOC will provide maps and notes about these sites.

NZDA will liaise with DOC Canterbury staff about summer cull opportunities in Canterbury after the aerial assessments have been completed.

Fed Farmer rep provided a brief overview of tahr activities on private land. The Orari//Rangitata area is becoming an important site for tahr hunting both commercial and recreational. Farmers generally like to closely manage activities on their land and do have some issues with hunters accessing places without permission.  There are private culls being done from time to time but farmers generally do not report them.

4. Tahr ballot programme in wilderness areas
The three new sites added to the tahr ballot system in 2012 and the earlier start date were successful and positive feedback was received. Six more sites in the Adams area have been located for 2013.  The TIG hunters have agreed to survey these sites this summer. See section 3.

The last few weeks of the ballot are not well utilised by hunters, probably because of poorer weather conditions, so the length of the ballot will be reduced and the additional six sites will ensure that the number of hunting opportunities will remain similar and in a better season for ground hunting.  This will also reduce the shared hunting period between ground and AATH hunters.

5. Observers on DOC tahr culls
Discussion around observers on DOC operations exposed a difference of interpretation about the agreement over observing operations by TIG members who believe this should be an annual event and not just every now and then. Some TIG member would like more regular observers but DOC also have requests from other stakeholder groups (i.e. Conservation Board members, Ngai Tahu) to view operations.

Generally agreed that if an observer comes along he would have to replace a DOC person and do the recording tasks. Unlikely an observer would be allowed to shoot.  There are also aircraft performance, safety issues and loss of efficiencies by having only one shooter to consider.   

DOC West Coast has offered a place for an observer this year. Shane Cross to liaise with Hacky Sims about this opportunity.

Garry Ottmann offered some additional flying time in Mt Cook/Aoraki operation to provide for an observer.  To liaise with Neil Bolton over this.

6. General discussion.
It was noted there are other organised groups of hunters; clubs for example, who do significant amount of culls but don’t want to be organised alongside the TIG lines.

Some discussion around the size of tahr herds and overall numbers. There are still fairly large groups being reported from time to time, especially from aerial observations, and some places are obviously holding too many tahr. Most hunters think there are plenty of male and trophy sized tahr around at the moment.

The DOC policy of avoiding culling obvious male tahr continues to be supported. However the question of shooting kids was raised as half of this age class will be males and young kids left to fend alone generally develop into stunted adult animals. If culls are done prior to December the females will be shot before kid drop.

« Last Edit: Oct 26th, 2012 at 10:29am by Weathered »  
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