Possum control operations resume on Banks Peninsula in mid February; the latest phase in Environment Canterbury's organised ground control programme focusing on 11,000 hectares in the Akaroa Harbour basin.
North Canterbury Pest Control won the contract for possum control through an open tender process. Its specialist pest control operators will target the area between Wainui and Duvauchelle, before moving to the area between Pipers Valley Road, the harbour entrance and the Summit Road.
Environment Canterbury's programme supervisor Steve Palmer said that possum control was being carried out with the co-operation of local landowners and would not encroach on residential areas.
"Clear localised signage will alert people where possum traps and bait stations are in the vicinity," said Mr Palmer.
"It is expected that both operations will take approximately six weeks and should be completed by the end of May, subject largely to weather conditions," he said.
Control work is timed for to take advantage of a period when possums are highly mobile and feeding actively in preparation for winter. This makes trap, lure and bait stations particularly attractive at this time.
Copies of maps showing the areas covered by the operations are available from Christchurch City Council service centres in Little River and Akaroa and are also posted on Environment Canterbury's website:
Map of Banks Peninsula Community Initiated Programme (CIP) Possum Control Block 2010 February - May 30th (pdf 4.13 MB)
Councillor Eugenie Sage, Environment Canterbury pest portfolio chair, said that the programme is being carried out at the request of local landowners who will also meet the majority of the costs. The objective is to ensure that Banks Peninsula is kept free of bovine Tb and to protect biodiversity values.
"By reducing possum predation, the survival rates for native birds, lizards and invertebrates such as weta are significantly better - and fewer possums means a healthier forest and shrubland habitat," she said.
The control operations entail a combination of trapping and placing cyanide-based poison in special bait stations. Bait stations are strategically placed, often high up and close to known possum feeding sites for maximum effect.
"Although traps and bait stations are purpose-built for possums, it is important that people entering control areas take extra care during the control period and take notice of information on signs. Dog owners should keep their dogs on leads in these areas as an added precaution," said Cr Sage.
The community-initiated programme is entering its fourth year as collaboration between Environment Canterbury, the Bank Peninsula Pest Liaison Committee, local landowners, the Animal Health Board and the Department of Conservation continues.
Banks Peninsula Pest Liaison Committee chair Paul de Latour said it is vital to capitalise on the progress that has been made in reducing the possum population as potential vectors of bovine Tb.
"The community-initiated possum control programme has local backing because beef and dairy farmers are looking after the welfare of their animals and want to secure their markets into the future. New Zealand already has an international reputation for the quality of its primary produce and we are keen to enhance that reputation," he said.
Independent post-operation monitoring to measure its effectiveness will take place soon after the programme ends.
For information about the possum control operation contact Steve Palmer, Environment Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula possum control programme manager on 027 3485394 or Bruce Dew at North Canterbury Pest Control on (03) 312 0165 or 027 3926874.
Environment Canterbury Pest Management Committee Chair Councillor Eugenie Sage, can be contacted on (03) 329 3177 or 021 155 3937.