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News: 1080 aerial poisonings

1080 fiordlandThe Department of Conservation (DOC) is in the process of two more aerial poisonings in Fiordland National Park, with another pending, but is not going ahead this year with aerial poisonings in some areas because monitoring has shown variable quantities of beech seed and predator rodent levels.

DOC had earmarked multiple sites in Fiordland for poisoning through its "Battle for our Birds" initiative, having identified an increased risk to native birds and bats from a plague of predator stoats, rats and mice. The increased risk was due to a "beech mast" year; a bumper crop of beech seed from the native beech trees. This seed provides a staple food for rodents and increases their populations quickly.

The distribution of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) poison pellets is via helicopter. The density of poisoning is about two kilograms per hectare. The poison content of the bait is about three grams per hectare. The 1080 cereal baits are about 3 centimetres long, shaped like a cylinder and dyed green. The poison should not be touched and animals should not be eaten from areas poisoned.

Where there won't be poisonings
In 2014, there will be no aerial poisoning in the Arthur, Sinbad, or upper Hollyford valleys, nor around Breaksea and Dusky Sounds. DOC is also not doing aerial poisoning In the Murchison Mountains, but is increasing the intensity of stoat trapping; with additional traps currently being laid out and new trap-lines being cut.

Completed poisonings
Aerial poisonings completed in August were 11,000 hectares of the Iris Burn Valley (famous as being the valley traversed by Kepler Track walkers), and 30,000 hectares of the Waitutu Forest near the south coast (west of the Humpridge Track). Following the Iris Burn Valley poisoning, rat populations monitored via 140 tracking tunnels dropped to undetectable levels (from a high of 72% previously). Monitoring is still underway in Waitutu Forest.

Imminent poisonings
Aerial poisonings are underway in 9,000 hectares of the Clinton catchment valley (the Clinton River runs alongside the famous Milford Track) and 20,000 hectares of the Lower Hollyford area (famous for the Hollyford Track) including private land in Martins Bay and Lake McKerrow areas. This pest control operation will complement the ecosystem restoration being embarked upon by the Hollyford Conservation Trust in Martins Bay comprising 2,500 ha of important coastal dunes, wetlands and podocarp forest.

Possible poisoning
There may be aerial poisoning in the Eglinton Valley (the Milford Road passes through this wide valley) next month if attempts to control predator numbers through ground-based poisoning stations are found to have not been successful. The poisonings are attempting to save significant and threatened native species of bird such as Mohua (yellow head), Kaka, South Island Robin, and critically-endangered long and short tailed bats. The Eglinton valley has been identified as the only viable site on mainland South Island to protect short-tailed bats.

More information
DOC welcomes enquiries about the Battle for our Birds predator control programme. For more information about individual operational sites including toxin safety information see www.doc.govt.nz/battleforourbirds or contact Lindsay Wilson, Conservation Services Manager on 03 249 0200 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Article date: 15.10.14

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