Introduction

Preparations are underway to use aerial 1080 operations to protect bats, mohua and parakeets from an expanding rodent phenomenon occurring at three West Coast sites.

Date:  21 September 2009

Preparations are underway to use aerial 1080 operations to protect bats, mohua and parakeets from an expanding rodent phenomenon occurring at three West Coast sites.

An abundance of forest seed is boosting rodent numbers in many West Coast forests, but the Department of Conservation is very concerned about the impact this will have in the Landsborough Valley (South Westland), Maruia Valley (near Reefton), and in the Oparara Valley (near Karamea).

Acting West Coast Conservator Chris Hickford said monitoring confirms that extreme forest seeding, called a “Mast event” has occurred which is triggering a rodent population irruption.

Bats and parakeets and other bird species are at risk at all three sites and the Landsborough Valley is home to a significant mohua population.

“Rats in particular are deadly wildlife killers and in the past events like this entire populations of species, like mohua, have been wiped out,” Mr Hickford said.

“Our other problem is that increasing rodent numbers always boosts stoat numbers and if we don’t do anything to control the devastation the outlook for a wide range of wildlife in these important places is very bleak,” he said.

“We are going to move quickly now and we aim to get aerial 1080 rat control operations underway in each of these three sites by the end of October,” Mr Hickford said.

Most of the stoats present will also be killed by eating poisoned rats.

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