The Department of Conservation has completed its Battle for our Birds aerial predator control work over about 257,000 hectares of Kahurangi National Park – the largest in one area it has ever carried out.
Aerial 1080 pest control was carried out to knock down high rat numbers fuelled by a heavy beech seed fall and also targeted possums. Stoat numbers are cut through their eating poisoned carcasses, preventing an explosion in stoat numbers in the park in summer.
The predator triple-hit protects at-risk populations of whio/blue duck, great spotted kiwi, kea, kākā, rock wren/tuke, Powelliphanta snails and long-tailed bats/pekapeka.
The aerial pest control in western, northern and eastern park areas was divided into five operational blocks with the last two of the five operations completed in western areas of the park and the Cobb Valley and surrounding areas over the past three days. Non-toxic baits were sown first to encourage rats and possums to eat cereal baits containing biodegradable 1080 pesticide applied later.
DOC Westport Conservation Services Manager Bob Dickson said the aerial 1080 pest control protected native wildlife from being decimated by rat and stoat plagues resulting from this year’s heavy beech seeding.
“With predators suppressed nesting native birds have a much better chance at raising chicks to grow their populations.”
Monitoring is taking place to measure the effects of the pest control on rat levels.
Warning signs are in place at entrances to the Kahurangi pest control areas and in huts to advise the public of the risks of the pesticide and poisoned carcasses. People should not touch baits or poisoned carcasses if they come across them.
Tracks were either excluded from the 1080 bait application or temporarily closed and cleared of baits before they reopened.
The Kahurangi pest control is among 25 Battle for our Birds operations nationally using aerially-applied 1080 over about 700,000 hectares of conservation land to to protect native wildlife from rat and stoat plagues. Aerial 1080 predator control has been completed over more than 60% of the total area so far.
The Battle for our Birds pest control programme is targeted to protect the most at-risk populations of mōhua/yellowhead, kākāriki/parakeet, kiwi, whio/blue duck, kea, kākā, rock wren, giant land snails and native bats.