Northern Remutaka aerial operation complete

Date 26 September 2018

An aerial 1080 possum control operation in the Northern Remutaka Range was completed during September.

Cereal baits treated with 0.15% of 1080 toxin were distributed over 24,000 hectares of native forest and rugged country between Hutt Valley and Southern Wairarapa on Wednesday and Thursday, 19 and 20 September. The operation knocked down possums to enable the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (TB) and support the regeneration of the forest and a boost for the breeding success of native birds.

The TBfree programme aims to eradicate TB from New Zealand. Keeping possum numbers low for a sustained period means TB cannot be sustained in wildlife.

The operation will prevent the spread of TB from the Northern Remutaka wildlife via possums into neighbouring farmland. It complements aerial operations in the Southern Remutaka and the Aorangi Ranges during the past three years, and ongoing ground-based operations throughout Wellington and Wairarapa. Cattle herds in the southern Wairarapa have a long history of TB infection.

Removing possums and rats also brings biodiversity benefits for the native plants and birds of this important and popular area. Intensive acoustic monitoring of birds by Victoria University scientists six weeks before-and-after an aerial operation in the Aorangi Range showed no decline in overall bird song. Longer term monitoring showed that 1.5 to 2.5 years following the 1080 operation in the Aorangi, five native bird species – tomtit, rifleman, bellbird, kereru and whitehead – showed a significant increase in call rates relative to the untreated Northern Remutaka area.

Warning signs at all public access points will remain in place to alert people to the danger of allowing dogs access to areas where 1080 baits are present. OSPRI, which manages the TBfree programme, offers free muzzles for dogs and guidance on Keeping Your Dog Safe, available at Forest Park headquarters, through DOC visitor centres and online at ospri.co.nz.

As a reminder to dog owners, a text message was sent by the Hutt City Council on the day the toxic operation started recommending that the operational area is avoided until warning signs are officially removed.

For more information, please read the operation factsheet

subscribe to ospri news