The post operational report on the 2015 1080-based pest control programme was presented to last week’s Regional Strategy and Policy Committee. It recapped the reason for the project, how it was carried out and results from a comprehensive monitoring programme.
Committee chair Councillor George Wood says the widespread reduction of predators and extremely promising species monitoring results is heartening.
“A little over a year ago we had a huge problem; the Hunua Ranges was teeming with rats and possums and our bird populations were being so heavily predated that no kōkako were fledging and adult birds were being attacked.
“This well-executed programme saw the very fast knock down of pest animals and similarly quick recovery of our treasured species,” he says.
Auckland Council Biodiversity Manager Rachel Kelleher says pest animals are at an all-time low with rat and possum densities significantly reduced across the operational area.
“When we began, rats were tracking at 91.6 per cent saturation across the ranges and possum numbers were high.
“Post operational monitoring has been extremely positive. Pest species have dropped dramatically with possums tracking between 0.25 per cent and one per cent, and rat densities between zero and 1.03 per cent.
“Species monitoring is also a strong indicator of success and we have had 13 kōkako chicks fledging from six monitored pairs so far and some of these pairs are already nesting again.
“With this high success rate among the six monitored pairs, we estimate there could be more than 100 fledgings from the 55 pairs in the managed area.
“Hochstetter’s frogs are still present, vegetation is recovering and we are about to undertake long-tailed bat surveys,” says Ms Kelleher.
Cr Wood acknowledges the input of many other agencies, groups and partners and the significant work the operational team did alongside mana whenua.
“The Hunua Ranges and Kohukohunui are very important to seven iwi with tribal ties to the area. We are very proud of the relationship that developed between council and mana whenua as a result of this project,” he says.