“The Government continues to thumb its nose at hunters and rural communities while proceeding with an undemocratic tahr cull,” says ACT’s Outdoors Spokesperson Nicole McKee.

The Department of Conservation’s revised Tahr Control Operational Plan is effectively the same as the original plan, with the same number of culling hours, and the target of eradication in areas where hunters can and do hunt.

“As it did with firearms legislation and the ban on offshore oil and gas exploration, the Government is proceeding without meaningful consultation with New Zealanders.

“The Department of Conservation has paid lip service to the concerns of the Tahr Foundation and the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, and gave no weight to legitimate hunting, food gathering and tourism.

“It’s clear that the Department of Conservation led by Eugenie Sage never had any intention of working in partnership with stakeholders. This cull will undermine rural communities and tourism businesses.

“Tahr are recorded worldwide as a ‘near threatened’ species with New Zealand having the largest number of the valued species in the world. A Himalayan Bull Tahr is worth up to $14,000 as a trophy animal.

“Organisations like the Tahr Foundation and the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association have in the past successfully worked in consultation with DOC on plans to control females and juvenile tahr. These organisations have effectively kept an adequate population of the game animals to support rural communities and businesses that benefit from international hunting.

“This cull continues to target male bulls, meaning entire herds will be exterminated.

“West Coast communities rely on the $100 million a year generated by the guided hunting industry. By eliminating this game animal, Sage is also eliminating the tourism potential that so many people rely upon.

“International game animal hunters come to New Zealand for two to three weeks and hunt for three or four days. Guides, hotels and retail businesses rely on this industry.

“The hunts booked for this year have been transferred to next year in the hope Covid-19 allows international travel in 2021. Tourists are not cancelling and seeking refunds, but are deferring. But if the game isn’t here to hunt, tourists won’t come. Not only is this an ill thought out plan that will destroy a special species, but it could very well be the nail in the coffin for many small businesses.

“Eugenie Sage has shown no leadership in working with communities that will be affected by her decision.

“A Party Vote for ACT at this election is a vote for democracy and to Change Your Future.”