Aerial pest control operation for Ruapehu district
TBfree programme manager OSPRI will collaborate with the Conservation Department (DOC) to undertake a pest control operation over about 44,000 hectares of rugged alpine native bush in the Ruapehu district during September.
The district has been a hotspot for bovine TB over the years, and the aerial 1080 operation will target possums, with rats and stoats as by-kill, in an area that takes in large parts of Tongariro National Park between National Park village and Waiouru.
OSPRI has been in consultation with iwi within the control area for the past eight months, and a number of hui and community information days have been held.
The possum population within the forest has been monitored and found to be well above the required level for eradication of bovine TB. Levels outside of the forested area have been reduced to low numbers by ground control methods. To achieve the goal of eradicating TB from wildlife, possum populations must be kept at a very low level for a long time – fewer than one or two possums per 10 hectares for 10 years.
Aerial drops of poison baits are essential in the most rugged terrain where ground operations are difficult, expensive and risky for workers.
The TBfree programme collaborates on pest control with DOC operations in the area. The Government is putting an extra $20.7 million nationwide into aerial pest control over the next few months, and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has said that control is particularly important this year as native forest trees such as beech and kahikatea are masting – producing more seeds than usual.
Rats eat the seeds and their population increases. Stoats eat the rats and their population increases. When the seeds run out, both rats and stoats turn to eating native birds, eggs, insects, bats and lizards. The most recent mast year was 2014, and extra money was spent on pest control, mostly in the South Island.
Aerial distribution of 1080 baits is planned during September, being dependent on appropriate weather and ground conditions, and the exact areas of focus will be determined nearer the start date.
For more information read the operation factsheet, or contact:
OSPRI Aerial Operations Coordinator
06 353 2712