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EW staff propose deferring Coromandel pest control operation

Environment Waikato biosecurity staff are proposing a deferral of a planned pest control operation in part of the Coromandel next financial year after monitoring showed possum numbers had not yet risen to a level that requires re-treatment.

A report to next week’s meeting of the council’s Coromandel Liaison Subcommittee suggests the work between Manaia and Coromandel town, under the auspices of the Peninsula Project, be put off for at least a year. The subcommittee is being asked to recommend the deferral to the council’s Catchment Services Committee.

The report suggests possum monitoring be carried out in February 2011 to check possum numbers to help make a decision on when control in the area should re-start.

In 2008, systematic possum control by the Department of Conservation and EW produced excellent results and latest monitoring this year showed possum densities still close to or below the original trap catch target set three years ago. Two possum "hotspot" areas were identified by the monitoring but they were within pine plantation areas that are to be logged over coming months.

"Deferring the operation is a logical decision as it will give time for possum numbers to settle down, after dispersal from the logging operations, which will make it easier for control at a later date," said biosecurity operations manager Peter Russell.

However, EW and the department remain very committed to their successful possum and goat control programmes in this area. "These programmes protect forests and help prevent erosion in upper catchment areas, as well as protecting bird life from the ravages of predatory possums. The emphasis will now shift to continued maintenance of low possum numbers to maintain the gains made over the last five years", Mr Russell said.

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