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Hunua pest programme complete

Hunua pest programme complete

Auckland Council’s 1080 programme in the Hunua Ranges area has reached an important milestone, with parkland reopening after the final bait application.

Hunua Ranges, Waharau and Whakatiwai regional parks reopened yesterday with rangers travelling around the 17,000-plus hectares of parkland removing closed signs, unlocking gates and reconnecting campground water supplies.

Tracks in the neighboring Department of Conservation reserves – Vinings and Mangatawhiri – have also reopened.

Auckland Council Biodiversity Manager and operational lead, Rachel Kelleher, says visitors to the parks must remain aware they are entering an area recently treated with a toxin.

“Signs will remain in place until early 2016 to remind people that 1080 has been used in the area. This caution period is one of the operational requirements of using a toxin like 1080 and is a good reminder to visitors that they may encounter bait that hasn’t yet broken down, or pest animal carcasses.

“Dog owners should take particular care, both inside and close to the operational area, to make sure dogs are not allowed to scavenge carcasses. Children should also be carefully supervised,” she says.

The operation, which began with the first pre-feed of non-toxic bait on 30 July, has gone well and early monitoring is extremely promising, she says.

“Treating a 21,000-hectare area that includes a water catchment, is popular for public access and includes private land requires many months of careful planning.

“Getting the right weather conditions was a challenge, however the first set of monitoring data is already telling us that we’ve been extremely successful.

“After each block was treated with toxic bait, an extensive track clearance programme was carried out. This required dozens of staff walking the 186 kilometres of tracks multiple times and carefully moving baits or carcasses.

“Initial independent monitoring results from block one of the operational area, which was monitored with 40 trap lines, only returned two trapped possums over what is the equivalent of 1000 trap nights.”

Monitoring of both pests and native species will continue.

Councillor Bill Cashmore looks forward to further positive monitoring results being reported in the coming months and the forest flourishing this summer.

“The Hunua Ranges is Auckland’s southern lungs, with its steep gullies and prominent ridgelines covered in native forest.

“To visit the ranges and hear kōkako sing, accompanied by tui and bellbirds, is truly wondrous but, until now, has been rare.

“We look forward to hearing an abundance of birdsong once again, and soon,” says Cr Cashmore.

Local board member Malcolm Bell thanks the local community for its involvement in this programme.

“Applying 1080 is a significant change to day-to-day management of our forest and we are grateful to our local community for its patience, understanding and support.

“More than 2,000 hectares of private land was included in the operation, which shows how concerned this community is with pest numbers in the forest.

“We also acknowledge those people who had reservations about toxic bait application yet worked with us and provided information on their properties to ensure effective boundary management,” he says.

Watercare’s Cosseys and Mangatangi dams have been returned to service following completion of a water testing programme (no 1080 was detected in the water supply) and approval was given by the Medical Officer of Health.

Clear results were also returned from all cultural and private property water testing, which involved working with iwi and private landowners to monitor waterways flowing from the operational area.

ENDS

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