The Department of Conservation has cancelled balloted tahr hunting opportunities for recreational hunters in Wilderness areas and Westland Tai Poutini National Park this summer.

Its planned tahr cull is still on hold while it reviews operational procedures in the wake of last month's helicopter crash at Wanaka.

DOC had planned to allow air access to the Hooker/Landsborough Wilderness Area, Adams Wilderness area and nine sites in Westland Tai Poutini National Park in January.

Lead operations director for tahr control, Andy Roberts, said feedback from some members of the Tahr Liaison Group suggested January was not the best time for the balloted hunting.


"Feedback suggested hunters would prefer not to undertake tahr control during this time as kids wouldn't have weaned from their mothers. We also heard from helicopter operators who won't have capacity to carry hunters due to increased tourism demand for flights."

"While the South Westland DOC office had the best intentions, we will be cancelling this opportunity based on feedback. The next opportunity for balloted hunting will be in late April next year during the tahr rut.

"The tahr ballot is about authorising aircraft landings on Wilderness areas and the National Park. Keen hunters can undertake recreational hunting on public conservation land anytime during the year.

"We will be continuing to work with the Tahr Liaison Group to identify potential ballot opportunities, where recreational hunters can contribute to tahr control.

"Over the summer months DOC will be focusing on monitoring the size of the tahr population and the damage tahr are causing to precious alpine and sub-alpine vegetation like the Aoraki/Mt Cook lily.

"While our current best estimates put the tahr population on public conservation land at more than 35,000 animals, a third year of population surveys will refine this estimate.

Roberts said DOC's aerial tahr control operation is still on hold following last month's fatal helicopter crash in which Department of Conservation workers Paul Hondelink and Scott Theobold died alongside pilot Nick Wallis.

"There is no confirmed date for DOC's tahr control work to resume but it's unlikely to be before February next year."


DOC said it was committed to working with the hunting sector to reduce the tahr population over time to within the limits of the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.