Flourishing foliage, an abundance of seeds and forest ‘fruit’ along with signs of new life in the kōkako population are the first signs of a successful pest control programme in the Hunua Ranges this year.
The first round of post-operational monitoring, following the aerial application of 1080 over a 21,500-hectare area, is complete, with rat and possum numbers at an all-time low.
Biodiversity manager and operational lead for the project, Rachel Kelleher, says the latest result numbers are significantly lower than the possum and rat targets set for the project.
“The target set for this operation for possums across the whole treatment area and rats within the intensively pest controlled kõkako management areas (KMA) was to get densities below five per cent. This means that fewer than five possums would be caught, or fewer than five tracking tunnels would have rat footprints, for every 100 trap or tunnel nights.”
Within the 1150-hectare kõkako management area, which has been monitored twice since the first bait application in August, no rats or mice have been recorded on either occasion in any of the 100 tracking tunnels.
For the next few months visitors to the Hunua Ranges must be aware they are entering an area treated with a toxin. Signs will remain in place until early 2016. This caution period is one of the operational requirements of using a toxin like 1080. It is a reminder to visitors that they may encounter bait that hasn’t yet broken down or pest animal carcasses.