Aerial poisoning operations with carrot or cereal baits are used to control brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) populations in New Zealand forests for ecosystem conservation and to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis to cattle and deer herds on adjacent farmland. Although various measures have been implemented to reduce the incidence of bird kills, dead birds continue to be found after poison operations.
The risks to non-target species of a newly developed bait containing either 0.15% 1080 or 0.6% cholecalciferol in a gel matrix were assessed. Very few of them ate gel bait. The safety of the gel bait is further enhanced by its placement in the purpose-designed bait station from which little spillage occurs, and which can be placed so that it is out of reach of most non-target animals. Comparative data show that nontarget species are considerably less susceptible to cholecalciferol than to sodium monofluoroacetate (1080).
Poisonous baits used for pest control in New Zealand commonly contain green dye and cinnamon oil to make them less attractive to birds. Research aimed at reducing the impact of poison based pest control on birds has shown that some birds are initially deterred from feeding on blue or, to a lesser extent, green coloured food and are attracted to yellow or red food. We determined whether colours that deter or attract birds affected the acceptance of non-toxic and toxic cereal baits by captive brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula).
The field use of brodifacoum baits (Talon(R) and Pestoff(R)) to control brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) has increased in recent years. This has raised concerns of secondary and tertiary poisoning, resulting from the transfer of this toxicant through the food chain. In New Zealand, feral pigs (Sus scrofa) are known to scavenge possum carcasses and and may also gain access to bait stations containing possum baits. We have determined the concentrations of brodifacoum in muscle and liver tissue from captive pigs after primary and secondary poisoning.
This study was initiated in response to concerns that vertebrate pest control operations in New Zealand may be having deleterious impacts on invertebrate populations and, secondarily, on insectivorous non-target vertebrate populations. Invertebrates feeding on non-toxic baits of the types used for vertebrate pest control were collected and identified. The bait types were diced carrots and three types of cereal-based baits (No.7, RS5, and AgTech).
The preferences of a captive herd of goats with feral ancestry were evaluated for 11 artificial pest control baits and commercial stock feed pellets. A commercial stock food pellet (based on barley, bran, and oats) was the most preferred basic bait. A mixture of 2% diced Griselinia littoralis (broadleaf) leaves (a preferred natural food plant) and 2% molasses (per weight of basic bait) increased palatability of this basic bait. The best lured bait was aerially sown at I kg ha(-1) in a 380 ha area with about 50 feral goats.
Non-toxic plain and cinnamon-flavoured carrots and cereal-based baits used in poisoning operations for control of the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) were offered to seven species of captive rare birds at Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Some individuals of all species ate plain baits.
Ongoing investigations into bird mortality caused by aerial 1080 poison operations to suppress pest populations will be required because the operational specifications continually change and improve. We summarise recent studies of bird deaths following 1080 operations and present six principles for use in prioritising future research into poison risk for bird populations. A decision tree (and supporting flow diagram) shows how the need for new surveys can be evaluated using these principles.