New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2011) 35(3): 291- 295

Survival of PIT-tagged lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) through a pest control operation using the toxin pindone in bait stations

Short Communication
Colin F.J. O’Donnell 1*
Hannah Edmonds 2
Joanne M. Hoare 1
  1. Research and Development Group, Department of Conservation, PO Box 13049, Christchurch 8141, New Zealand
  2. Department of Conservation, PO Box 29, Te Anau 9640, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Introduced mammalian predators are a major threat to New Zealand’s wildlife, including bats. Controlling these predators using traps and poison baits can reduce their impact on bat populations. However, lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) are potentially susceptible to toxins used for pest control in New Zealand forests because of their broad diet and habit of feeding on the ground. Therefore, the risk of secondary poisoning should always be assessed before new toxins are used in areas inhabited by lesser short-tailed bats. We measured survivorship of a sample of lesser short-tailed bats monitored before, during and after deployment of the first-generation anticoagulant toxin pindone in the Eglinton Valley, Fiordland, during late winter and summer 2009–2010. Pindone-laced cereal baits were deployed in bait stations from September to late December 2009 in an effort to control rats (Rattus spp.). Communal roosts of the one lesser short-tailed bat colony in the valley are located entirely within or immediately adjacent to the area poisoned. Minimum number alive was determined for the sampled bat population after monitoring the occupancy of colonial roosts by individually PIT-tagged bats through the study period. Survivorship of bats was high throughout the monitoring period, with 319 of 322 bats (99%) recorded in the pre-monitoring period (August) known to be alive in October 2009 and 312 of 322 bats (97%) known to still be alive in January 2010. We conclude that lesser short-tailed bats did not consume pindone baits and that their survival was probably enhanced by rat control in the study area.