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Rat control programme to protect native birds

Rat control programme to protect native birds

Recent rat baiting operations in Wainuiomata should help native birds survive an extraordinary ‘mast year’ in which heavy fruiting of native trees has led to an explosion in predator numbers.

GWRC studies show rat numbers rising dramatically from a base target of 5%, with Wainuiomata Mainland Island at 60% and 26% recorded in the East Harbour Mainland Island.

“Left unchecked these rat densities are likely to have a devastating impact on local bird populations as rats begin to prey on eggs, chicks and adult birds,” says GWRC biodiversity manager Tim Porteous.

“If we cannot reduce rat numbers before birds breed in the spring and summer there’s a good chance the recovery of local bird populations will be set back by several years.

“We can expect that populations of vulnerable species such as rifleman, tomtit, whitehead, kakariki and kereru will be knocked back fairly severely and our very small, vulnerable North Island robin populations will be at high risk.”

Bait stations containing cholecalciferol and diphacinone have been fixed to trees on East Harbour Mainland Island. Sodium fluoroacetate, also known as 1080, will be ground spread on Wainuiomata Mainland Island.

GWRC has notified neighbouring landowners, recreational user groups, vets and the wider local community about the operation. Users of these areas are urged to steer clear of the bait or carcases.