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Eradicating TB from Rangitoto Range

Eradicating TB from Rangitoto Range


Farmers and environmentalists alike are touting the benefits of the aerial bovine tuberculosis (TB) control operation being undertaken in the Rangitoto Range west of Mangakino.

The Rangitoto Range makes up a part of New Zealand’s 10 million hectare TB risk area in which TB-infected wild animals have been found. The objective of the national pest management plan is to eradicate the disease from at least one quarter of the country’s total TB risk area by 2026.

Waikato TBfree Committee Chairman John Bubb said eradicating the disease from the Rangitoto Range is part of this plan and aims to prove TB can be eliminated in extensive forest areas.

In TB risk areas, possums cause the majority of new herd infections in farmed cattle and deer.

“To declare this area free of TB, wild animal surveys will be undertaken after the operation to check for the presence or absence of the disease,” said Mr Bubb.

“However, the risk remains that illegally introducing wild animals, such as pigs and deer, into the Rangitoto area could cause TB to return after it has been proven to be eradicated. It is also an offence under the Wild Animal Control Act,” said Mr Bubb.

“It would be a shame to jeopardise this work through such reckless behaviour as re-introducing wild animals from other areas. Since 2011, 800,000 hectares of the country’s TB risk area has been declared free of the disease.”

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.

Strict regulations must be followed when undertaking pest control operations. This includes consent from various organisations, including the Waikato Regional Council, extensive consultation with affected land occupiers and the placement of warning signs at each main access point to the operational area.

“Dogs owners must be extra vigilant by keeping their animals well away from areas where warning signs are present. It will not be safe for your dog to re-enter the area until all signs have been officially removed,” said Mr Bubb.

If you suspect your dog may have ingested a toxin, take it to the nearest veterinarian immediately. All local vets are aware that possum control is taking place in the area and what methods have been used.

“Dog owners have a personal responsibility to keep their animals under control at all times, particularly near operational areas,” said Mr Bubb.

Department of Conservation Senior Ranger for Biodiversity Tertia Thurley 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 Ms Thurley.

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

-ends

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