Pre-feeding for the first part of OSPRI’s TBfree Southern Rimutaka aerial possum control operation is standing by for the next clear weather window.
The operation will distribute pre-feed baits in the next fine weather window in the East Harbour Regional Park, followed by toxic baits in the following fortnight. The larger Orongorongo Valley and southern Rimutaka Range portion of the operation will be flown during May/June.
The timing ensures least disruption for trampers, dog-walkers and other Forest Park users, and takes place after ‘the roar’, the peak deer hunting season.
The East Harbour component of the operation, between the Wainuiomata River and Wellington Harbour, will be pre-fed with non-toxic baits during late April to ensure the effectiveness of operation when toxic baits are distributed within the following 10-14 days.
The TBfree operation is delivered by primary sector service organisation OSPRI and supported by the Department of Conservation for its benefits to wildlife – restoring the native forest habitat that is home to kiwi and other important birds – in the process of eradicating bovine tuberculosis from wildlife and farmed deer, beef and dairy cattle.
Possums are the main transmitter of TB to cattle, and surveys have confirmed TB-infected possums in the forest park.
The biodiversity benefits of the possum control include killing the stoats and rats that predate on native birds, including the kakariki and the NZ falcon karearea, in this important area of indigenous forest.
A factsheet and maps offering detail of the operation, and guidance on how to Keep Your Dog Safe can be found at ospri.co.nz
The TBfree programme aims to control and eventually eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB) from New Zealand by 2055.
OSPRI North Island Programme Manager Alan Innes said the Southern Rimutaka aerial operation forms part of a comprehensive pest management programme designed for the North Island. The majority of the operational block has not received possum control before.
There are strict safety, quality assurance and monitoring requirements around the use of 1080 when applied either by hand or aerially (which accounts for just 10-20 per cent of its use).
Mr Innes said, “Warning signs will be erected at all likely public access points to the area before the application of toxic bait begins. It is important that the public adhere to the instructions on these warning signs."
“Dogs' owners are again reminded to keep their animals well away from areas where warning signs are present. It will not be safe to take dogs into the area until all of the warning signs have been officially removed,” said Mr Innes.