New Zealand

Increased predation on pukeko eggs after the application of rabbit control measures

We have been studying the social behaviour and ecology of pukeko (Porphyrio porphyrio) for over five years at a study site in the lower Taieri River, Otago New Zealand. After an application of rabbit poison in 1995 and the illegal release of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) in 1997, there was strong anecdotal evidence that rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) abundance on and around our study site had been substantially reduced.

Mortality of North Island tomtits (Petroica macrocephala toitoi) caused by aerial 1080 possum control operations, 1997- 98, Pureora Forest Park

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.

Social and spatial structure and range use by Kaimanawa wild horses (Equus caballus : Equidae)

We measured horse density, social structure, habitat use, home ranges and altitudinal micro-climates in the south-western Kaimanawa ranges east of Waiouru, New Zealand. Horse density in the Auahitotara ecological sector averaged 3.6 horses.per km² and ranged from 0.9 to 5.2 horses.per km² within different zones.

An assessment of the probability of secondary poisoning of forest insectivores following an aerial 1080 possum control operation

Assays for the toxin sodium monofluoroacetate (compound 1080) were undertaken on arthropods collected from toxic baits after a brushtail possum (Trichosorus vulpecula) control operation in Nothofagus forest in central North Island, New Zealand. The 1080 concentrations measured (mean 57 mu g per g, max 130 mu g per g) are considerably higher than those reported by other researchers who collected arthropods randomly after control operations.

Vegetation composition and phenology of Mokoia Island, and implications for the reintroduced hihi population

Hihi (or stitchbird, Notiomystis cincta) is a rare honeyeater endemic to the North Island of New Zealand. Hihi were translocated from Little Barrier Island to Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua, in 1994. Mokoia is a small (135 ha) island with secondary vegetation, so there was some doubt as to whether the island had sufficient diversity of fruit and nectar sources to support a hihi population. This paper reports data collected in the year after the translocation on the density, distribution and phenology of plants likely to be used by hihi. We address the following questions.

Risks to non-target species from use of a gel bait for possum control

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).

Do colours that deter birds affect cereal bait acceptance by possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)?

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).

Secondary and tertiary poisoning risks associated with brodifacoum

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.

Ecological consequences of toxin use for mammalian pest control in New Zealand—An overview

Toxins, especially sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) and brodifacoum, are widely used throughout New Zealand for control of introduced mammals that are considered pests. This level of toxin use (not necessarily with these toxins) is unlikely to decline for at least 5-10 years. Ecological consequences derive both from mammal population reduction or eradication, and from using toxins as the control method.