Eradicating TB from the Upper Clutha

Date 26 November 2015

Together with local farmers OSPRI has been taking the fight to pests in Upper Clutha with pest control operations being carried out as part of the TBfree programme. The goal of this work is to eradicate TB from wildlife in the area.

To build on the progress made to date, intensive ground possum control work is being proposed in the Upper Clutha area. An aerial operation in the Mount Gold area neighbouring, what is known locally as Hawea Neck is also being proposed. Areas around Wanaka and Hawea are part of New Zealand’s 10 million hectare TB risk area where TB-infected wild animals have been found. A public information event is planned for early 2016 so locals can meet with OSPRI staff and discuss the operation.

Southern South Island Area Disease Manager Garry Knowles says, ‘These areas were identified in the 1990s as key buffer areas to prevent the spread of TB possums westwards to Makarora, Hunter Valley and Mount Aspiring National Park. The ground control work and the Mount Gold aerial operation is needed to maintain this buffer’.

In the high country tussock grasslands surrounding Wanaka and Hawea, possums live in the rocky outcrops, scrubby steep gullies and forested areas, all of which are areas that make ground control difficult and hazardous. The aerial operation is needed to reduce the possum population to extremely low levels e.g. one - two possum / ten hectares. This is to reduce the risk of infected animals interacting and spreading the disease.

Southern South Island Programme Manager Brent Rohloff says, ‘A 188,500 hectare control programme is currently underway in the Upper Clutha. Of this total amount, 5500 hectares is in under aerial control which is approximately 3% of the total TBfree programme.

Ground-based control work, supported by aerial operations, protects the significant economic contribution pastoral production makes to Otago’s economy each year. Pest control work also benefits the region’s biodiversity which are extremely vulnerable to introduced predators, such as possums, ferrets, stoats and rats.

Mr Rohloff says, ‘Like all our operations, such as the recently completed East Hawea aerial operation, strict regulations must be followed. This includes obtaining consents from various organisations, including the Ministry of Health Public Health Unit, extensive consultation with affected land occupiers and stakeholders, and the placement of warning signs at locations identified during the consent application process. Deer repellent will also be used during the aerial operation following discussions with the local NZDA Branch.’

For further information on the aerial operation or on the wider TBfree programme in Central Otago contact the Southern South Island TBfree Team on or (03) 955 5 850.

The TB plan is currently under review by the Minister of Primary Industries, for more information please visit

Further information

Nikki Penno

03 955 5850

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