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Pigs Spread Kauri Dieback In Northland

Forest & Bird has expressed deep horror and sadness that kauri dieback has been confirmed in Puketi Forest, and are demanding the government fund and implement the stalled National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback.

Puketi and Warawara Forests have the only areas of unlogged kauri left in the world.

"Unlike the Waitakere Ranges, in Northland the disease is being found far from tracks. Pigs are the main spreaders of the invisible disease in the north as they rip up the ground for food and carry the disease in mud on their feet, fur, tusks and we know the disease can travel through their guts and be deposited somewhere else when they poo," Forest & Bird spokesman Dean Baigent-Mercer says.

"Feral pigs are counted within the 100 worst invasive species in the world. Here pigs have no natural predators, except occasional human hunters. In Northland, a sow will have a litter of 6 or more piglets, several times a year. In comparison a female possum has one baby a year."

"High pig numbers turn natives forests into giant pig sties with muddy wallows, pig race tracks and smashed under-storey. Extremely high levels of pigs in Puketi Forest is well known. Two years ago a tv news expose showed 40 wild pigs passing a single camera.

"People didn't fight to save these ancient kauri from chainsaws for them to be killed by pigs spreading kauri dieback disease. Hunters have been taking pigs or piglets from one spot that happens to be infected with kauri dieback and releasing them in another area and spreading the invisible disease," says Mr Baigent-Mercer.

"The government must fully fund and implement the proposed National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback that is currently sitting with Cabinet.

"New Zealand was promised there would be an accelerated response on kauri dieback more than two years ago and yet nothing has changed on the ground. Having a consistent set of policies and rules to enable the control of disease spread across all land uses and landowners is essential.

"The health of these forests needs to be improved to help fight the disease and reduce its spread. The last ancient kauri forests left need to be prioritised."

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