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Commissioner very pleased with results of predator campaign

Environment Commissioner very pleased with results of predator campaign

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright has congratulated the Department of Conservation on the initial results of its major campaign to tackle a predator plague this year.

In 2011, Dr Wright released a report on 1080 following her independent investigation into its use. She found that aerial 1080 is the only way of combatting the massive increase in rat and stoat numbers that follow a ‘mast event’. A mast begins with prolific flowering of beech trees, followed by the production of huge amounts of seeds. This provides plenty of food for rats and their numbers soar to plague levels.

A mast event has occurred this year and Dr Wright has strongly supported DOC’s Battle for Our Birds campaign to combat it.

“Data from the tracking tunnels show that, as predicted, rat populations increased to extreme levels before crashing dramatically following the 1080 drops,” said Dr Wright.

“This means that many more native birds will survive this year.”

Dr Wright said that it was unfortunate that three of 43 radio-tagged kea had died from 1080 poisoning.

“It is always sad to hear of the loss of any native birds. However, without the campaign, far more birds would have been killed by rats and stoats, and some species decimated in many areas. In 2000, a predator plague following a mast wiped out the last yellowhead/mōhua from the Marlborough Sounds.

“We are lucky that we have 1080 available. While trapping and other poisons are very important weapons in our fight against predators, it is only 1080 that has the capacity to deal with the booming populations of predators in mast years.

“Inevitably, pest numbers will increase again and we must continue to monitor, be ever-vigilant and be prepared to respond with bold action again when required.”

ENDS

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