Asian paper wasps reach very high densities in some areas of the far north of the North Island, and concerns about their impact on native biota have led to a search for potential control methods. We simulated the effects of kill-trapping adults by manually removing either 50% or 75% of adults from nests and comparing subsequent counts of adults and capped pupal cells with paired untreated nests. Five weeks after treatment, the 50% removal group had an average of c. 29% fewer wasps than the untreated group, while the 75% removal group had c. 34% fewer than the untreated group.
A long-life poison bait dispenser, consisting of a tree-mounted platform that dispenses a highly attractive liquid bait only when triggered by actions characteristic of a possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), was developed. The liquid bait formulation prevents deterioration due to the action of oxygen, moisture, bacteria and insects. The prototype is designed to dispense 100 lethal doses of poison, and is expected to last more than five years in the field without attention. The equipment is designed to avoid fouling by algae, debris or nesting insects.
Current monitoring of Himalayan thar (Hemitragus jemlahicus) populations in New Zealand involves a technique based on repeated observations by different, experienced observers. The method gives no measure of error and hence does nor allow for statistical comparison of repeated surveys. We outline a faster and cheaper technique that enables statistical comparison between surveys based on mark-recapture theory.
Hourly kill-rates and encounter-rates for hunters of feral goats (Capra hircus) provided linear indices of goat population size in a 638 ha area of forest and grasslands in Marlborough. The goat population of about 108 animals was reduced to near zero in 105 hours of hunting effort on 11 days at a cost of about $8.20 ha-1. However, goats from the surrounding areas soon recolonised the study area as 19 were shot in 21 hr and 14 in 24 hr 10 and 13 months after the study, respectively.
The ability of feral goats to become pests is partly a consequence of the process of domestication. Neolithic people selected biological characteristics from wild goats, such as higher intrinsic rates of increase and increased sociability that have resulted in their domestic descendants becoming a particular nuisance when they escape to become feral. Feral goats live in about 11 % of New Zealand, mostly on land reserved for conservation of the indigenous biota. Their uncontrolled densities are usually less than 1 ha-1, but have reached 10 ha-1 in one area.
Brushtail possums began colonising a rata/kamahi forest in the Taramakau catchment, Westland, about 1950 and by 1973 had caused widespread conspicuous canopy defoliation. They were poisoned in one block of this forest in 1970, at about the time they reached peak density, and again in 1974. In an adjacent block they were poisoned in 1974 only. A survey of forest canopy condition in 1985 showed that, in the block poisoned at peak density, 21% of the basal area of palatable trees had died compared with 47% in the block where poisoning was deferred for 4 years.
An estimate of intrinsic rate of increase (r(m)) of a brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) population was calculated from the measured increase in possum numbers after a poisoning operation in Westland rata/kamahi forest. Our empirical estimate of r(m) (0.22—0.25) was lower than published estimates for this species (0.30, 0.34, 0.59). Consequently, the control operation was effective for longer than predicted by population models that used these published values.
In late 1986 an official deer hunting regime in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland, was compared with two commerical aerial hunting regimes in the adjacent Stuart Mountains by measuring the density of deer faecal pellet groups. Overall densities in the Stuart Mountains were twice those in the Murchison Mountains. Official hunting appeared to be more effective than commercial hunting at reducing and controlling deer densities in heavily forested catchments, but not in catchments with less extensive forest cover.
Feral goats (Capra hircus) have been hunted intensively every year since 1972 on the 2950 ha Raoul Island to protect the indigenous vegetation. Rumen samples taken from 103 goats shot in 1982-83 showed that a minimum of 48 species of vascular plants, mostly indigenous species, were eaten. Only seven foods—Metrosideros kermadecensis, Coriaria arborea var. kermadecensis, Me/icytus ramiflorus spp. ramiflorus, Rhopalostylis baueri var.
Goats were liberated on Raoul Island early in the 19th century. Attempts to eliminate the goats commenced in 1937 and have accounted for at least 15 000 animals. Since 1972, when annual hunting expeditions began, both the number of goats and the area over which they range have steadily declined and the herd is now almost extinct. Despite these changes, the mean group size of goats in 1981-83 remained the same at 3.19, 2.74 and 3.24 respectively. On average, 19% of goats escaped each encounter with the hunters.