We are undertaking an aerial possum control operation in the Akatarawa Forest, using the biodegradable pesticide, sodium fluoroacetate (1080). Weather dependent, non-toxic pre-feed baiting is now expected early March 2021, with toxic baiting expected approximately 7-10 days following pre-feed.
The proposed operational area shown on the map below covers approximately 14,400 hectares of the Akatarawa Forest, which is owned and managed by Greater Wellington. Previous aerial 1080 possum control operations have been carried out in this area in 2007 and 2013.
The Akatarawa Forest is one of the best examples of ‘old growth forest’ in the Wellington region, providing habitats that support many regionally and nationally uncommon native species. The forest also contains water sources that may be used for water supply in the future, and areas of plantation forest.
We need to reduce predator numbers to protect the biodiversity and water quality in the Akatarawa Forest. A recent monitoring survey found possums were present throughout the forest, in numbers which exceed target levels. Akatarawa forest is not only the habitat of vulnerable native reptiles, invertebrates and birds, but is home to an extraordinary and unique northern rātā which is 39m tall, and thought to be over 1,100 years old.
We propose to undertake an aerial possum control operation on Terawhiti Station and Kinnoull Station, using the biodegradable pesticide, sodium fluoroacetate (1080). This would occur during suitable weather conditions from mid-April 2021.
The proposed operational area shown on the map covers approximately 3,300 hectares of regenerating and plantation forest. The area is extremely difficult to access due to the nature of the terrain and density of habitat.
The properties involved are owned and managed locally and there is no public land involved within this operational area.
This work is being done as part of the Regional Possum Predator Control Programme (RPPCP), which is a Greater Wellington Regional Council pest management initiative that aims to control possums and other predators, which are a serious threat to our native biodiversity and economy.
Greater Wellington has implemented the RPPCP to preserve the work completed by OSPRI (TB free), by maintaining low possum populations in areas declared ‘Bovine TB free’. The RPPCP continues to expand within the Wellington Region, as new areas gain this status.
Possum control has the additional benefit of controlling rats and stoats. Rats will die when they consume possum baits, while stoats will be killed when they consume the carcasses of poisoned rats and possums. A reduction in numbers of these introduced predators will further protect native plants and birds.
The proposed operation presents no risk to human or pet health as long as these precautions are followed:
The proposed operation will be completed in two stages:
1080 pellets are 20mm in diameter, coloured green and are cinnamon lured to make them unattractive to birds. Each pellet contains 0.15% of 1080 and will be applied at a rate of 2kg per hectare. That’s less than one small box of laundry powder per rugby-field-sized area. Similar to laundry powder, 1080 breaks down when mixed with water into a harmless substance
For further information please read the full fact sheet on the proposed Akatarawa operation.
The biggest threat to native wildlife in the Wellington Region is introduced predators such as rats, possums and stoats. We face a choice, let predators reach out of control numbers, or manage them to protect our native species, primary production sector and social wellbeing. Maintaining healthy ecosystems also helps to improve freshwater quality and stable water supply.
When managing predators we use the most efficient method suitable for the area where problems exist. This means we are using a variety of methods aimed to provide effective and efficient control, while minimising impacts on the environment and non-target organisms. We are also very active in supporting research and development of new methods.
The biodegradable pesticide sodium fluoroacetate (or 1080) is one of the many methods we use to manage the array of predators within the Wellington Region. 1080 has been proven over many years to reduce predator numbers safely, with no adverse impact on the environment or human health. We use aerial 1080 for controlling predators in areas which are rugged and/or hard to reach.
Our team of experienced Biosecurity Officers are in tune with the latest developments in predator management research.
We rely on the advice from our environmental scientists, who carry out ongoing monitoring to assess areas around the Wellington region which are home to threatened flora, fauna and marine life.
This monitoring helps us to design operations that control predators and improve native biodiversity in the safest and most cost effective way, and adhere to the national best industry practice and all relevant legislation.
We encourage anyone interested in becoming more informed on the subject to explore for yourself. You may wish to view the 1080 website.