High levels of seed production (mast) in forests throughout New Zealand can cause rodent and stoat populations to rapidly increase over summer. This is a serious threat to our endangered native wildlife.
‘Battle for our Birds’ is a predator control programme run by DOC for rapid knock down of pests. Aerial 1080 is used over large areas to provide a nesting opportunity for threatened species. Where 1080 cannot be used, such as in the Murchison Mountains where takehē live, we use a network of traps.
Success from pest control in 2014
Our large-scale pest control programme in 2014 successfully knocked back rats and stoats. This helped protect vulnerable native species across large areas of forest over the 2015/16 summer. From Waitutu in Southland to Tongariro Forest in the central North Island, pest control has provided consistent benefits to native species.
Pest threat in 2016
The pest threat has returned as seed production (mast) in many forests show a potential increase in the rodent and stoat populations.
It's still too early to know whether the flowering seen in spring 2015 will result in full seed setting. But vulnerable native species will be at even further risk from pests in some places if the trend continues.
Preparing for pest control in 2016
The scale of the threat will not be known until late autumn when the seeds have fallen and the rodent numbers can be accurately tracked. But we are already preparing for additional pest control that might be needed.
Our field staff and scientists are currently monitoring the seed setting and pest levels. They will work with planning teams over the next couple of months to identify populations of native species at risk.