Survival of PIT-tagged lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) through an aerial 1080 pest control operation
- Department of Conservation, PO Box 29, Te Anau 9600, New Zealand
- Science and Policy Group, Department of Conservation, Private Bag 5, Nelson 7042, New Zealand
- Science and Policy Group, Department of Conservation, Private Bag 4715, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
Introduced mammalian predators, in particular rats (Rattus spp.), are a major threat to New Zealand bat populations. Aerial application of the toxin sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) is currently the most costeffective method of controlling rats across large spatial extents. Lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) may be vulnerable to secondary poisoning from 1080 because they feed on invertebrate prey on the ground that may have consumed toxic bait. We monitored individually marked bats before, during, and after an aerial 1080 operation in the Eglinton Valley, Fiordland, in December 2014 from a population that has been monitored since 2008. No symptoms of sub-lethal exposure in free ranging bats were detected and survivorship was high: 764 of the 771 marked bats (99.1%) recorded in the pre-monitoring period were still alive one week after toxin application and a record number of 1731 marked bats were recorded emerging from a single roost tree in January 2015. One bat pup was found dead under a roost tree and 1080 was detected in muscle tissue. Any immediate impact of 1080 was assessed as minimal because the calculated annual survival rates were high (91.5%). We conclude that survival of the population was likely enhanced by the large scale 1080 operation.