Date: 06 September 2016
The Department of Conservation has confirmed further Battle for our Birds pest control areas due to rising rodent numbers in South Island forests.
Forest seeding in autumn has fuelled a surge in rat and mouse numbers, which will cause a stoat plague and put vulnerable populations of our already threatened native birds, bats and snails at high risk this spring.
August monitoring results show that rodents have reached threshold levels for damage to native species at seven proposed priority sites under close watch. These are the Beresford Range in Southland, Eglinton, Kepler, lower Hollyford and Waitutu in Fiordland and Haast (true left) and Te Maruia on the West Coast.
DOC Acting Deputy Director-General Operations Martin Kessick says field staff have been monitoring rodent numbers using a record 13,000 tracking tunnels over more than one million hectares to inform pest control decisions.
“We need to be ready to act, to knock back rats and stoats before they overwhelm birds which are particularly vulnerable when they nest in spring.”
“Our research shows that well-timed application of biodegrabable1080 baits suppresses predators to very low levels and significantly boosts the breeding success and numbers of offspring of our at-risk native birds and bats.”
Martin Kessick says pest control is only done where it is needed, and the planned aerial 1080 operation in the Blue Mountains in Southland has been cancelled as monitoring has shown low seed fall and rodent numbers there.
Pest control at Waikaia in Southland has also been put on hold as rodent numbers have not increased as expected, with further monitoring planned in coming months to confirm whether pest control will be needed.
Decisions have yet to be made about several other proposed sites including the Grebe in Fiordland, Matukituki in Central Otago and sites around Arthur’s Pass and the Hurunui South Branch in Canterbury.
The Battle for our Birds programme, which got underway last month, will see rodents, stoats and possums controlled by aerial 1080 over 24 priority conservation areas over about 810,000 hectares. This will be supported by ground control methods such as traps and poison bait stations over about 70,000 hectares.
The programme is aimed at preventing our most vulnerable populations of kiwi, kākā, kea, whio/blue duck, mohua/yellowhead, kākāriki/orange-fronted parakeet, rock wren, long and short-tailed bats, giant snails and frogs from furher decline.
Fiona Oliphant, Media advisor
Phone: +64 3 371 3743
Mobile: +64 27 470 1378