Introduction

We will start our aerial 1080 pest control operation in the Dart, Routeburn and Caples Valleys on Wednesday 21 September.

Date:  19 September 2016

This work is aimed at safeguarding populations of threatened native birds from predation including mohua, whio/blue duck, pīwauwau/rock wren, kākā and kea. Many other birds will also be protected including kākāriki/parakeet, toutouwai/robin and korimako/bellbird.

Our monitoring has verified rising numbers of mice and rats across the area. In the Dart, rat levels have increased between May and August from 3% to 12% of monitoring tunnels showing rat prints. Mice levels jumped from 18% to 57% of tunnels with prints.

These escalating rodent numbers are the beginning of a population surge following a heavy seeding of beech trees last autumn. These seeds provide plentiful food for the rodents. As stoats eat rodents, stoats will then also multiply. When the seed supply fades the hungry rodents and stoats turn on the native birds to survive.

Pest control is timed for early spring to knock down rodents and stoats before they reach levels that threaten native birds and to best protect them when they nest and raise their young.

DOC Wakatipu Operations Manager Geoff Owen says that carefully timed 1080 treatment significantly benefits native birds.

"Monitoring following Battle for our Birds pest control in 2014 showed that mohua, rock wren and kea all had better nesting success and raised more young in areas with 1080 treatment than areas without it.

"In the Dart and Routeburn valleys 89% of the monitored mohua nests produced chicks after 1080 treatment, which was double the success rate of areas without 1080 treatment.

The pest control operation begins with a 'pre-feed' of non-toxic cereal pellets. This accustoms the pests to the pellets as food. About a week later a second operation will sow pellets with 1080. At the request of the New Zealander Deerstalkers Association and Game Animal Council, deer repellent is being used across the Dart and Caples valleys to minimise the risk to deer in areas that are valued for hunting.

All walking tracks within Dart, Routeburn and Caples valleys will be temporarily closed while both the pre-feed and toxic operations take place. As the timing of operations is weather dependent people are advised to check with a DOC visitor information centre for the latest information if planning to visit the area.

Contact

Geoff Owen
Operations Manager Wakatipu District
Phone: +64 3 442 6841  
Mobile: +64 27 703 4620

Chris Hankin
Partnerships Ranger
Phone: +64 27 536 6805

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