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Rangitoto Range TB control benefiting native wildlife

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

TBfree New Zealand is working with environmental groups to stamp out pests in the Rangitoto Range to control bovine tuberculosis (TB) and bring the birds back.

The Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto ranges make up a part of New Zealand’s 10 million hectare TB risk area in which TB-infected wild animals have been found.

The objective of the national pest management plan is to eradicate the disease from at least 2.5 million hectares of the country’s total TB risk area by 2026. TBfree New Zealand aims to eradicate the disease from the Rangitoto Range as part of this plan.

Waikato TBfree Committee Chairman John Bubb has had first-hand experience with bovine TB and how it affects farmers’ livelihoods. In TB risk areas, possums cause the majority of new herd infections in farmed cattle and deer.

"To declare this area free of TB, wild animal surveys will be undertaken after the operation to check for the presence or absence of the disease," said Mr Bubb.

"We have achieved a great deal to date. Since 2011, 800,000 hectares of the country’s TB risk area has been declared free of TB."

The co-operation of farmers and landowners in testing their animals and allowing access to their land for TB control operations is paramount in achieving freedom from the disease. The Rangitoto Range, along with the Hauhungaroa and Hokonui ranges, are areas in which TBfree New Zealand is aiming to prove that the disease can be eradicated from extensive forest areas.

"Effective pest control in our rugged bush protects our farmed livestock and valuable export markets. We cannot take our foot off the pedal now, as we head down the path to eradicating this disease," said Mr Bubb.

Native Forest Restoration Trust Reserves Manager Sharen Graham said the operation would follow up on previous aerial control in the area to protect native birds and bush.

"This area is home to giant totara, rimu and kahikatea as well as native birds including tui, falcon, robins and kaka, all of which are in danger of pest browsing and predation," said Mrs Graham.

"The trust actively supports the upcoming aerial 1080 operation because the method has previously proven to leave the ecosystem in a much richer state than when possums, rats and stoats are devouring native wildlife," she said.

TBfree New Zealand Northern North Island Acting Programme Manager Robert Allen said hunters have also been widely consulted on the operation.

"This led to an agreement to treat part of this high use recreational hunting area - not including Rangitoto Station - with deer repellent coated 1080 pellets to reduce potential by-kill of deer," said Mr Allen.

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