The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Project Janszoon completed an aerial application of 1080 pesticide in the Abel Tasman National Park on 22 August.
The Abel Tasman Inland Track, Wainui Track, Falls River and Anchorage to Holyoake Clearing tracks were closed during the toxic bait application and were re-opened after being inspected by DOC staff and cleared of bait.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track and 100 metres either side of the track, huts and campsites, and all water supply catchments within the Park were excluded from the aerial bait distribution, however DOC staff also checked to ensure no bait was present in these locations.
Project Janszoon Director Devon McLean says the aerial 1080 operation was undertaken in response to this year’s beech mast and its resulting abundance of food which has seen a marked increase in rat numbers.
“Research has shown rapidly rising rat numbers can overwhelm trap networks. Project Janszoon’s network of traps in the upper reaches of the Park caught 6.4 rats per day on average in August 2014, compared to 1.3 rats per day in August 2013. The aerial 1080 operation will help protect the Park’s birdlife from predator attacks during their critical spring nesting time,” he says.
The 1080 pesticide was sown over 11,289 ha of the Park at a rate of 2 kg/ha – the equivalent of around five baits across an area the size of a tennis court. It will complement Project Janszoon’s existing stoat trapping network that now covers 70% or 15,000 ha of the Abel Tasman National Park.
Warning signs have been erected advising the public about the dangers if they come across the pesticide or predator carcasses. When the signs are removed this means that normal activities can be resumed in the area.
DOC’s Motueka Conservation Services Manager Mark Townsend says that dogs are particularly susceptible to the poison.
“I would like to remind dog owners to take extra care until the warning signs are removed. Dogs are only allowed in the park by permit, but people with dogs in areas adjoining the park need to keep their dogs under control to avoid contact with carcasses.”
Devon McLean says monitoring of the effects of the 1080 operation will now be undertaken including annual monitoring of changes in bird populations.
The aerial pest control did not include any part of the Canaan Downs–Takaka Valley area or the Marahau Valley. Ground pest control methods will be used to control possums around Awaroa and Torrent Bay and in their adjacent water catchments around huts and campsites and in areas alongside the Coast Track.