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Report on last year’s biosecurity programme

Report on last year’s biosecurity programme shows progress

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s annual biosecurity report has highlighted the significant progress being made in with both animal and plant pest control in the region. The report has been presented to Council by biosecurity staff. The annual report is on the Council’s website www.hbrc.govt.nz>what we do>pest control.

The Council’s rural possum control programme (PCA) now covers 90% of the region and is finishing 3 years ahead of schedule. This programme is recognised as one of the most successful in New Zealand and is now rolling out to farmers in the Wairoa area. The use of fur harvesters in the Wairoa district has made control more economical so more can be done.

“The PCA programme has made great progress and farmers are to be congratulated for their support as much of the effort in keeping possum numbers low rests on their shoulders, although they clearly get real benefits from the programme,” said Cr Kevin Rose, Chairman of the Council’s Asset Management and Biosecurity Committee.

Ninety percent of rural landowners in the region are now getting the economic, animal health and biodiversity benefits of sustained low numbers of possums. Farmers in Possum Control Area (PCA) operations manage the ongoing control of possums once an initial knock down is completed by Council contractors. The trap catch rate by which possum numbers are assessed is down to 1.8% on average across the region (= average out of every 100 traps fewer than 2 possums have been caught). By comparison, on average the trap catch rate across rest of New Zealand is between 8% -15%.

“At this very low level, there are significant economic and biosecurity benefits to farmers,” said Campbell Leckie, Council’s manager biosecurity.

The Regional Council also completed the first urban pest management programme on Napier Hill during this period with support from Napier City Council. The programme had excellent support from residents who are maintaining bait stations on their property.

“Residents have been enthusiastic about the benefits as they were rewarded with a swift increase in native bird numbers and much healthier gardens,” said Cr Rose. “The possum control Napier City Council worked on in their parks and reserves has also resulted in healthier trees in these public areas.”

This programme is now being rolled out in areas surrounding Havelock North, with a new area around Pakipaki and south Havelock North starting soon.

The aerial rook control programme continues to reduce the population of this bird which is a pest to agriculture and horticulture. Council contractors are flown in by helicopter to apply poison to nests. South of State Highway 5 there were 905 active nests treated (compared to 1956 the previous year) and north of the highway, 92 nests (compared to 214 in 2008/09).

Pinus contorta control has been done on the Rangitaiki where this invasive tree is a problem in areas near to conservation land. This was the sixth year of Council funded control work. All of the core area (90 hectares) is clear, however seedlings are constantly sprouting and active management is ongoing.

Trials to control Chilean Needlegrass and Nassella tussock are looking encouraging. These pests plants are difficult to control in dry pasture areas and impact on stock. This project has been in conjunction with Marlborough District Council and Environment Canterbury. Initial spraying of the herbicide was done in March 2008 under strict controls, and there has been long term residual control without damaging other desirable grasses. A large number of other plant pests under control or surveillance were also reported on.

A significant amount of work was done to try to control the spread of Argentine Ants. This is a relatively new pest and Council staff have worked with home owners to control the pest on their properties and stem the spread.

ENDS

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