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Hawke’s Bay TB control benefiting native wildlife

28 April 2014

Hawke’s Bay TB control benefiting native wildlife

Farmers and environmentalists alike are touting the benefits of planned aerial bovine tuberculosis (TB) control operations this winter in Waipunga near the Taupo to Napier highway. Dennis Ward, of Ngatapu Station, fits into both groups and is also a keen recreational hunter.

“When you look at the practicalities of 1080 in improving the quality of life of our native species, it’s a no brainer. People don’t appreciate that possums, stoats, ferrets and rats do more to decimate our native bird populations than anything else,” said Mr Ward.

He said scientific research has shown the positive effects of 1080 on native birds and forests. “The evidence has convinced me that it is the best method for use, particularly in rugged terrain like the Waipunga area, where ground control is impractical.”

“It is absolutely amazing to see the bush come alive with native birds following a 1080 operation. The way in which the operations are approached and how contractors are careful of sensitive areas, they do their job very well,” said Mr Ward.

TBfree Hawke’s Bay Committee Chairman Dennis Mitchell has had first-hand experience with bovine TB and how it affects farmers’ livelihoods. In TB-risk areas, possums cause the majority of new herd infections in farmed cattle and deer.

“The battle against bovine TB has been waged in Hawke’s Bay for 25 years and currently there are no infected cattle or deer herds in the region. Although the war goes on as we seek to methodically control pests, especially possums, which can sustain the disease in wildlife,” said Mr Mitchell.

Possum control in the Hawke’s Bay backcountry now poses the biggest challenge to completely eradicating TB in the region. The co-operation of farmers and landowners in testing their animals and allowing access to their land for TB control operations is paramount in achieving freedom from the disease.

“Effective pest control in our rugged bush is vital to protect our farmed livestock and valuable export markets,” said Mr Mitchell.

The Waipunga pest control operation is situated over a combination of private, government and Māori-owned land.

Department of Conservation Senior Ranger Dave Wills said some of New Zealand’s rarest bird and plant species will benefit from the pest control operation.

“DOC is working closely with TBfree New Zealand to ensure the best results possible for native wildlife,” said Mr Wills.

About 1659 hectares of Whirinaki Forest are included in the operation and the area targeted for treatment contains North Island brown kiwi, whio, kaka and threatened native bats.

“A wide range of other forest birds, trees and wildlife also stand to benefit from the knock back of predators like possums, rats and stoats,” said Mr Wills.


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