Landcare's TBfree work wins award

Date 23 January 2018

The science underpinning New Zealand’s TBfree programme has earned a science award for the team of researchers which delivered it.

Science New Zealand, which represents the country’s seven Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) hosted its inaugural national awards at Parliament earlier in the summer.

The TB Free Team at Landcare Research/Manaaki Whenua [Graham Nugent, Bruce Warburton, Peter Sweetapple, Ivor Yockney, Grant Morriss, Jackie Whitford, Dean Anderson, Mandy Barron, Andrew Gormley, Dave Morgan, Sam Brown] was recognised for their outstanding teamwork, and excellent science in refining aerial 1080, where it remains the only large-scale possum, ship rat and stoat control tool available for contemporary conservation in New Zealand.

Most the research recognised was funded and directed by OSPRI and its predecessor, the Animal Health Board. The team’s research has clarified the role of various pest species as TB vectors; developed strategies for local elimination of pests and for declaring areas free of TB; and substantially reduced the environmental, non-target, and animal welfare risks of pest management.

The research projects included: Low cost aerial 1080, Proof of Freedom, TB surveillance, population monitoring, mitigating non-target impacts, the role of deer, pigs and ferrets in TB maintenance, Possum spatial model for TB freedom prediction, Surveillance-then-control to reach TB freedom faster, deer repellents for 1080 baits.

These projects have helped deliver more rapid revocation of Vector Risk Areas and have enabled OSPRI to shift from a focus on achieving international TB freedom status to a focus on full TB eradication.

The research also helped the development of the competitive contracting industry and performance contracts. It also guided the intensity of control and surveillance needed to achieve TB freedom, developed low-cost detection systems for surveillance, affects the design of surveillance programmes depending on the availability of pigs, ferrets and other wildlife, assists with the design of aerial programmes (eg repeat operations, bait sowing rates, use of deer repellent).

Teamwork and excellent science were key to refining the use of aerial 1080, which remains the only large-scale possum, ship rat and stoat control tool available for contemporary conservation in New Zealand.

Research projects were undertaken research projects were undertaken across New Zealand, in areas including Waikato, West Coast, Southland, Marlborough, Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay.

In 2013, the Landcare Reasearch team leaders were awarded the Shorland Medal by the New Zealand Association of Scientists for applied science excellence, which recognises the influential contribution the group has made to the cost-effectiveness and success of mammal pest management (possums particularly) over the past two decades.

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