Renowned conservationist Sir David Bellamy once called New Zealand the “land without teeth” as in pre-human times there were no mammals living here. Our native plants and animals evolved without the fear of four-legged predators and cannot easily defend themselves.
Rats can attack birds and chicks nesting high in trees. They also eat native wētā, snails, insects and lizards.
Stoats are often described as ‘public enemy number one’ for native birds. They are the major cause of the decline of species like kiwi, kākā, and kākāriki/yellow crowned parakeet, and also feed heavily on reptiles and invertebrates.
Possums consume an estimated 21,000 tonnes of vegetation in New Zealand forests every night. In the Abel Tasman they can severely damage large areas of natives like rātā, tōtara, tītoki and mistletoe. They also prey on bird eggs and young chicks.
Predator control will allow the forest canopy to recover and reduce attacks on chicks and nesting birds so they can rebuild their populations.
Birds being returned to the Park include kaka, toutouwai/robin, kakariki/yellow crowned parakeet, saddleback/tieke and pateke/brown teal. More species will be returned in time.
A stoat trapping network covers most of the national park. Boxed traps are checked and reset monthly. Read more about the stoat trapping network here.
In some areas, including Anchorage an Totaranui Goodnature self-resetting A24 rat traps are being used The traps are powered by a CO2 gas canister that can kill up to 24 times per canister.
Aerial predator control
Given the large area and difficult terrain, the most effective way to control possums, or rats during a beech mast, is to use aerially applied cereal baits containing biodegradable 1080 pesticide.
1080 is the common name for sodium fluoroacetate which is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring toxin found in a range of plants from South America, Africa and Australia. A 2011 Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment report into the use of 1080 found it was the most effective tool currently available to protect our native wildlife.
View DOC and Project Janszoon’s application to the Tasman District Council for controlling rats and possums in the Abel Tasman National Park below. The application includes a report on the actual and potential environmental effects of rat and possum control, and has been completed after 11 months consultation with affected parties.
Project Janszoon is disappointed that DOC’s kea repellant trial has not been as successful as hoped, but supports DOC’s further work in this area.