The Department of Conservation’s Battle for our Birds aerial 1080 pest control operation in the Clinton valley in Fiordland National Park was successfully completed yesterday.
This work is targeted to protect native species such as whio/blue duck, South Island kākā, Fiordland tokoeka kiwi, kea and South Island robin over 9,000 ha in the Clinton and associated valleys.
DOC Fiordland Conservation Services Manager Lindsay Wilson said beech seeding had fuelled rapidly rising mice numbers, which would have caused a stoat plague in the valley this summer.
“Timing is right for pest control in the Clinton to give us a triple-hit of possums, mice and stoats, and protect our native birds as they nest and raise their young this spring and summer.”
“Without pest control we risk losing birds such as whio, kākā and kiwi from this valley.”
Aerial possum control was last undertaken in the Clinton in 2006 and possums had reached levels that cause damage to native plants such as fuchsia, scarlet mistletoe, māhoe and rata, said Wilson.
The application of biodegradable 1080-laced cereal baits over the target area follows its treatment with non-toxic 'pre-feed' bait on 27 September.
The operation followed stringent safety procedures and buffer zones were in place around significant waterways. The operation will not affect the opening of the Great Walks season on the Milford Track on 28 October.
Warning signs about the presence of 1080 poison are in place at all entrance points to the area. Tracks have been cleared of baits. However, visitors are warned not to touch bait if they come across it and to watch children at all times.
The Clinton valley is one of 25 confirmed Battle for our Birds operations using aerially-applied 1080 over a total of about 680,000 ha of conservation land, largely in South Island beech forests.
About 50% of the total area has been successfully completed, including the Iris Burn valley and Waitutu Forest in Fiordland National Park, Waikaia Forest in Southland, and Dart-Routeburn-Caples in Otago.
Get more information on Battle for our Birds pest control
- The Clinton valley catchment is home to a number of species particularly vulnerable to predation by stoats such as whio/blue duck, Fiordland tokoeka kiwi, kākā and kea.
- The Battle for our Birds pest control operation used the biodegradable poison 1080 laced in cereal baits, which were sown at a rate of 2 kg per hectare using GPS-guided feeder systems. The poison content of the bait is about 3 g per ha.
- Aerial 1080 is an effective method of knocking down plague levels of rats and mice following a beech mast (seeding), as well as possums. Removing the rodent food source prevents a stoat plague, and stoats are also killed after feeding on poisoned rats and mice. Pest control operations are timed to best protect native birds and bats, which are particularly vulnerable during the breeding season and when roosting in holes in trees.
- Monitoring the effects of the pest control operation will be undertaken in coming weeks including the knock-down of rodents.
- Monitoring in several other western Fiordland Battle for our Birds sites has shown variable quantities of beech seed and rodent levels. Low beech seed and rodent levels have been recorded in the Arthur, Sinbad and upper Hollyford valleys and around Dusky Sound and therefore these planned Battle for our Birds operations will not go ahead.