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Published: 2012-05-11 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council and the Department of Conservation say there has been a very successful start to a major possum control operation in the western King Country.

More than 25,000 hectares was treated last week with aerially applied 1080 baits.

Another 8,000 hectares is to be treated using ground control methods between now and July.

The work in the Herangi Range and surrounding land is designed to tackle an increase in possum numbers since the last control operation in 2006. The operation is being jointly funded by the council and DOC.

The council’s biosecurity operations manager Peter Russell said there would be very significant numbers of dead possums in the treated area in coming months and reiterated warnings to hunters to avoid using dogs there.

“Dogs can die if they eat poisoned carcasses and a carcass will remain toxic to dogs until it rots away.

“We strongly recommend against hunters using dogs in the control area until the caution period is over – we’ll make another announcement when that happens,” said Mr Russell.

Possums are being targeted in the range and surrounding privately owned land to protect important areas of coastal forest and native wildlife. The control methods used will also kill rats which predate on native birds and the rare Archey’s and Hochstetter’s frogs. The area contains the most important population of the frogs in the country.

The possum control also helps protect productive farmland and reduce the risk of the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

Ahead of the possum control operations some 3,000 wild goats have been removed from the area as part of the overall forest protection measures.

“DOC has worked to reduce possum numbers over much of the public conservation land since the mid -1990s so it’s great to be working collaboratively with the Waikato Regional Council to include the privately-owned adjoining land,” said DOC’s Maniapoto area manager Ray Scrimgeour.

“The forested areas being treated include a variety of ecosystems and habitat for a range of threatened and endangered species. Pest control improves the forest canopy, water quality, and increases the likelihood of a successful breeding season for our native wildlife.” 

Local farmer Greg Calvert said he was pleased with the way the control had been carried out. “This is the best operation carried out in the area to date.”