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Pests destroy wildlife while govt. sits on $4Bn

Pests destroy wildlife while govt. sits on $4B surplus

August 21, 2003 - Wellington MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Pests destroy wildlife while govt. sits on $4B surplus.

Forest and Bird today released a table and maps of national parks showing that few national parks are receiving the pest control they need to safeguard native plants and animals. Forest and Bird obtained the maps and an associated table of figures from the Department of Conservation (DOC) under the Official Information Act.

"New Zealand's national parks are our premier conservation lands. Yet these maps show that national parks are only getting a fraction of the protection that they need," Forest and Bird's Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey said.

"Overall, DOC controls stoats on only 2% and possums on only 12% of land within national parks. That is woefully inadequate and means that possums and stoats roam over much of New Zealand's national parks with impunity," he said.

"It is no wonder that people complain about silent forests when predators roam unchecked in New Zealand's native forests. The government is not even halting the decline in New Zealand's biodiversity, let alone restoring the dawn chorus," he said.

"It will surprise no-one that DOC expects whio (blue duck) to be functionally extinct over much of its range in 10 years when these maps show that DOC does not control predators such as stoats over 97% of land in national parks," he said.

"How can the government sit back and let the kaka, kiwi and blue duck in New Zealand's national parks be literally eaten to death when it has a $4 billion surplus? Just one percent of that surplus would pay for vastly increased pest control over all of New Zealand's national parks," he said.


Restoring the dawn chorus

According to the Director General of Conservation Hugh Logan (Statement of Intent 2002-2005) the "dawn chorus that characterized our forests in earlier times survives only on some outlying islands and in a few intensively managed pockets of the mainland. Restoring the dawn chorus is the task with which the Department of Conservation, working together with the people of New Zealand, is charged.

State of whio (blue duck)

In October 2002, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) upgraded the conservation status of whio (blue duck) from vulnerable to endangered. A Department of Conservation newsletter reported in June 2003 that the "Blue Duck Recovery Group predicts that if the present rate of decline in whio populations is not addressed, the species will become functionally extinct from much of its present range within the next 10 years".

Other pest control efforts

Sustained control includes only the pest control where the Department of Conservation is carrying out pest control with a long-term commitment. One-off pest control operations, community-based or private operations and Animal Health Board operations are excluded from the data, as they do not provide certainty of long term protection.

The Animal Health Board carries out substantial possum control of its own and this augments control by the Department of Conservation. However, such control is focused on areas where TB is a problem for cattle and not necessarily where wildlife needs to be protected. The Animal Health Board tends to control pests on the fringe of conservation land, rather than the interior because that is where the TB risk is most significant.

Table of sustained control of stoats and possums on conservation land

National Park Stoats Possums

Abel Tasman No DOC control 6.58%
Aoraki Mount Cook No DOC control No DOC control
Arthur's Pass No DOC control 9.84%
Egmont No DOC control 99.96%
Fiordland 3.82% 4.08%
Kahurangi No DOC control 17.01%
Mount Aspiring 1.96% 12.23%
Nelson Lakes No DOC control 0.91%
Paparoa No DOC control 27.16%
Rakiura No DOC control 7.48%
Te Urewera No DOC control 28.02%
Tongariro No DOC control 4.97%
Westland Tai Poutini 7.96% 18.92%
Whanganui No DOC control 69.87%

Overall 2.11% 12.32%

Contact: Geoff Keey, Biosecurity Awareness Officer. 04 385 7374 (w) 025 227 8420

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