Bats to benefit from Ruapehu predator control

Date 12 August 2019

Winter visitors to Ohakune know about busy nightlife. But in the nearby Rangataua Forest, every night is busy for the pekapeka (short-tailed bat) – struggling to survive an onslaught of predation by possums, stoats and rats.

A colony of about 8500 pekapeka have been monitored by DOC researchers in the forest. But the bats are threatened by predators destroying their habitat and eating their offspring.

The colony’s survival and breeding success will be boosted this spring by a predator control operation targeting possums to eradicate bovine TB. TBfree, the programme managed by OSPRI on behalf of the farming sector, aims to eradicate TB from possums in the area before 2028 to prevent them introducing TB to dairy, cattle and deer herds.  

That’s achieved by knocking down possum numbers and keeping them low so disease can’t persist. During the knockdown, when possums are killed by cereal baits containing 1080, other introduced predators such as stoats, rats and ferrets are removed too, and native animals thrive.

The 8500 bats recorded in DOC’s recent short-tailed bat monitoring project makes it the largest population in the country, and the pest control operation will provide protection for this nationally important population.

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Pekapeka short tailed bat

OSPRI and DOC work to eradicate TB from possums and support pekapeka will boost breeding success of the native short-tailed bat.