The Tararua ranges should resound with increased birdsong as the result of a new pest control programme to be undertaken by the Department of Conservation.
Starting in spring 2010, rats, stoats and possums will be controlled every three years in a 22,000 ha belt across the Tararua Forest Park - from Otaki Forks to Holdsworth roadend.
The operation has been named Project Kākā - Tararua Nature Recovery to reflect its goal of restoring a diverse native forest bird community to the park, including the native parrot kākā , plentiful on nearby Kapiti Island and at Pukaha Mount Bruce, but surviving only in low numbers in the park. The timing of the operation will ensure that native birds gain maximum protection during the vulnerable nesting period
North Island kākā
“We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing more native birds in the park,” DOC’s Wellington Hawke’s Bay Conservancy conservation support manager Dr Ben Reddiex said.
“So that trampers and other visitors can enjoy the restored bird populations, we’ve designed the project to include some of the most popular tracks and huts in the park”.
Since 1994, the department has controlled possums within central Tararua Forest Park using aerial application of 1080 once every six to seven years. The new regime will see the frequency increased to once every three years, with non-toxic pre-feed baits used to increase the effectiveness of the poison operation conducted a few weeks later. Trials throughout the country have shown pre-feeding to be an “extremely effective” way to achieve almost complete removal of possums, rats and stoats, Dr Reddiex said.
“Because our overall pest control budget hasn’t increased, this more intensive pest control can only be achieved by reducing the area in which we control pests.”
DOC is establishing detailed monitoring of birds, vegetation, weta and pest mammal densities both inside and outside the proposed treatment area, to learn more about effective management of Tararua forests.