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Forestry Management Programme: 

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Pest Control Operation (Central Lake Taupō Forest):

The third of three OSPRI-run pest control operations occurred in Lake Taupō Forest in 22 February 2017. OSPRI (previously the Animal Health Board and TbFree NZ) applied to the Trust in 2015 to undertake three operations on our lands over the next two years. While OSPRI’s objectives in doing this – to control bovine tuberculosis, a disease which can transfer from possums and stoats into in cattle and deer herds – are not the same as the Trust’s pest control objectives, the Trustees identified that the proposed operations would also achieve the Trust’s desired outcomes.

This recent OSPRI operation covered the land between the Hinemaiaia Stream in the north and the Waitetoko Stream in the south. The main method of control was aerial 1080 application, though there were considerable areas along the lake edge, along the major streams, and in areas where harvesting operations were occurring, where ground based control using feratox was used. Owners who are planning on hunting should be aware of this, and should not take any dogs into this part of Lake Taupō Forest for at least 6 months.

In considering pest control options, the Trustees have an obligation to ensure that the native vegetation, the native birds, and the exotic plantations on their lands are protected and ideally enhanced. The main threats to these are possums, rats, mice and mustelids (stoats ferrets and weasels). The Trust has for many years studied a variety of options for pest control, both in terms of their effectiveness and their cost.

They have trialled two large areas using ground based trapping instead of aerial 1080. The results of these trials indicated that it was very difficult to get pest numbers down to the required level. Further, from a practical perspective there were limited numbers of local people prepared to actually commit to the physically demanding work. The Trustees also noted that these ground-based operation only controlled possums - one of the key benefits of 1080 from this perspective is that it also kills rats and mustelids, which gives the native birds a good opportunity to get through to fledging without predation.

From a cost perspective, the Trust has calculated that to achieve pest control outcomes as good as that provided by OSPRI’s operations, but without using 1080, would cost the Trust over $0.5 million/year. Key drivers of this are that it is very expensive, and difficult, to control rats and mustelids. Even to get possum numbers down to the levels achieved by 1080 requires continued trapping far beyond the level that any commercial possum trapper would consider worth doing.

The Trustees realise that 1080 is unpopular with some owners, particularly hunters. While Trustees consider it the best option open to them at present, they are actively encouraging research into alternative pest control options which are both affordable, efficient and non-controversial. While there are a few options which show some promise, there are none which look likely to become available in the next few years at least.

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Whakatauki

Whaia te iti kahurangi ki tona tauranga, kia pupu ake ai ko nga painga katoa, ki a ratou e whaipainga ana ki tenei ngahere.

Pursue the items of value to their destination,so that benefits arise,
for the beneficiaries of this forest.

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