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Published: 2010-11-23 00:00:00

Thirteen very successful possum control operations and continued excellence in cutting rat numbers under the Hamilton Halo project are features of the annual report for 2009-10 of the Regional Pest Management Strategy.

The report was presented yesterday to Environment Waikato’s regional pest management committee, which approved it being forwarded to full council for adoption. It showed an operating surplus for the year of just under $533,000 was recorded by EW’s biosecurity-heritage group.

In a summary of key achievements, the report said 13 possum control operations had achieved a residential trap catch (RTC) score of two per cent, well under the required five per cent. RTC is a measure of animals trapped after pest control is carried out.

“Excellent possum control results were a credit to EW’s professional and dedicated contractors,” the report said.

It noted that under the Hamilton Halo project there had been continued excellence in achieving low rat numbers at six key sites at crucial tui nesting times. Halo is a project aimed at boosting the numbers of tui visiting Hamilton by controlling rats which feed on eggs and young tui.

The report also noted two sites containing the pest plant Noogoora bur were located near Matamata through good survelliance and all plants were destroyed before they could seed.

And nearly $60,000 was allocated to small scale community groups, mainly from the Coromandel, for projects aimed at enhancing native plant and animal life.

An operational surplus of just under $533,000 was due to savings made during tendering, uncompleted work in which funding is being carried over to this year, and the fact that some work was unable to be done due to staffing issues and factors beyond EW’s control.

Of the surplus, more than $400,000 has been transferred to this year to fund projects such as possum control at Mokauiti and a koi carp capture trial at Lake Waikare.

Regional pest management committee chair Laurie Burdett noted the report outlined a number of challenges for the current financial year. These included better demonstrating the benefits of pest control work, streamlining pest plant control consents processes and maintaining the support of land owners in Priority Possum Control Areas for EW’s work.

“The challenge for EW is meeting increasing demands for resources while making sure our pest control processes are sound and decisions are fair and reasonable.

“We do need the continued cooperation and involvement of all land occupiers in the region if we are to manage animal and plant pests in the most effective manner possible,” Cr Burdett said.