When the rat numbers climb,
it’s time to take action!
DOC’s Battle for our Birds team met in late June 2016 to analyse the data from the hundreds of seed monitoring sites and thousands of rat tracking tunnels to identify where impacts of pest invasions would occur in the coming spring.
Data analysis showed a distinct pattern that has implications for where and when the response to rodent numbers will come.
In some places, the levels of beech seeding will support rodent populations that will have a devastating impact if left unchallenged. Again, like 2014, the main areas affected are the northwest of the South Island in Kahurangi National Park.
Looking towards Mt Arthur, Cobb valley, Kahurangi National Park.
Further south in the Otago mountains and to a limited extent into the eastern South Island, this pattern was repeated.
By mid-July more than 700,000 hectares were confirmed as ready to go with pest control and about 200,000 ha were on a watch list. Rat plagues look unlikely to threaten native species on a further 38,000 ha, which have been excluded.
In all areas of Kahurangi National Park, rodents are tracking at relatively high levels and the prediction of large rat numbers has prompted the need for pest control to tackle the threat to snails, bats and birds.
DOC has been working closely with longstanding community-driven conservation groups like ‘Friends of Flora’ and ‘Friends of Cobb’ who have put in the hard yards over many years to reduce the impact of pests on populations of native species.
The Friends groups have overseen the reintroduction of whio/blue duck into the area of the park where they undertake pest control. The ground-trapping operations keep the stoat and possum numbers in check during normal years.
Cobb valley, Kahurangi National Park.
This year’s 1080 drop will control the expected rat plague, helping the native species survive and thrive in the years to come. Without rat control, all the hard work of the conservation groups may have been for nothing.