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1080 operation underway in eastern Tararuas

19 November 2007

1080 operation underway in eastern Tararuas

An aerial assault on possums is underway in the Atiwhakatu, Waingawa and Ruamahanga catchment in the eastern Tararua Forest Park, to protect native flora and fauna in the area.

Cereal baits containing small quantities of the pesticide 1080 are being distributed by helicopter over an area of around 10,000 hectares, in an operation which commenced this morning and will take up to two days to complete. It is one of six, similar-sized canopy protection zones being treated under a possum control regime that has been operating since 1994 in the Tararua Forest Park.

Department of Conservation Wairarapa Area manager Chris Lester said possum browsing was severely affecting the health of forests in the Atiwhakatu, Waingawa and Ruamahanga valleys. Canopy trees such as northern rata and fuchsia were at risk, as were threatened plants such as scarlet and red mistletoes.

“To achieve recovery we will need a large reduction in possum numbers and periodic control to keep possum browsing at lower levels,” Mr Lester said.

Mr Lester said possum numbers in the area had increased to the same levels as they were before the last control operation in 1999.

“It’s a reminder that possums keep on breeding and we have to keep on knocking the population back down to low levels to protect conservation values.”

Three kilograms of bait containing the toxin 1080 will be applied per hectare. At a concentration of 0.15 percent of toxin per bait, this equates to about 4.5g of 1080 per hectare, roughly a teaspoonful. The 3cm long, cylinder shaped pellets are dyed green and lured with cinnamon, making them unappealing to birds but attractive to possums.

The use of this pesticide requires the consent of Medical Officer of Health, and a resource consent from the Greater Wellington Regional council. The department also has an internal approval process to ensure the operation meets its strict quality management standards for pesticide use.

DOC’s Wairarapa Area Office contacted adjoining neighbours and placed warning signs around the boundary prior to the start of operation.

There is no risk to people visiting the treated area providing they do not eat the bait. However, dogs are extremely susceptible to 1080 through either eating bait or from scavenging on poisoned carcasses. While the baits themselves break down quickly after rain, the area will remain hazardous to dogs until possum carcasses have decomposed, probably by the end of summer. There will be warning signs at entry points into the park reminding people of these risks.

These risks can be eliminated by following these simple rules:

• DO NOT touch bait
WATCH CHILDREN at all times
DO NOT EAT animals from this area.
• Poison baits or carcasses are
DEADLY TO DOGS

A fact sheet about this operation can be found on the DOC website www.doc.govt.nz>parks & recreation>places to visit>wellington>wairarapa>tararua forest park or obtained from the Wairarapa Area Office.

More information about possum control and the devastating effects of possums on our native forests can be found on the DOC website:
www.doc.govt.nz (publications - conservation - threats & impacts animal pests - possum control)

Find out about other places to explore in the Wairarapa on the DOC website: www.doc.govt.nz>parks & recreation places to visit wairarapa or by contacting DOC’s Wairarapa Area Office, phone 06 377 0700.

ENDS


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