Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry will be joined by a top Department of Conservation scientist in Queenstown today to announce the 2016 Battle for our Birds pest control programme.
Graeme Elliott will also be present at a meeting in Glenorchy to talk about a planned 1080 aerial drop in the region, including the Dart, Routeburn and Caples Valleys, expected in spring.
Dr Elliott told the Otago Daily Times it was an opportunity to talk about the impact predators such as stoats, rats and possums had on native birds.
He explained that pest numbers increased dramatically when native beech trees flowered because
of a wealth of food.
“The rats and mice breed like hell and then the stoats breed like hell, because they have all those rats to eat. When numbers get high, which will happen by September, they slaughter all our forest wildlife.”
While beech mast is a good source of food for native birds, it makes predator control extremely difficult.
He acknowledged the use of 1080 was controversial but said Doc was “between a rock and a hard place”.
“In places like Glenorchy and the Routeburn we have the last few dregs of our kaka and blue duck populations. We have morepork up there, which is a bit of a miracle. These birds will be lost … they are heading for extinction if we do nothing.”
While traps and other conservation projects could help, they could only be used on a fraction of land, due to the nature of terrain in New Zealand’s back country.
Dr Elliott said discussion, at an information evening in Glenorchy this evening, was essential but understood some locals might object to the Battle for our Birds programme.
“You do get some people who are a bit grumpy and ask some questions but I haven’t attended a meeting where anyone has acted in a bad way. I am not expecting there to be fisticuffs. I hope they just listen to us. It is a really serious issue.”
Source: Otago Daily Times http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/390998/doc-meeting-discuss-predator-control