Pest Control News New Zealand – July 2016
Picton’s quest to become the first predator-free town in New Zealand, how the moon affects possum and rodent behaviour, and a surge in rat infestation cases in Dunedin: all covered in our monthly news roundup.
A town’s quest to become predator free
Picton, a Marlborough Coastal community, is looking to become New Zealand’s first town to get rid of all predator pests. The Marlborough District Council is backing the project being implemented by the environmental group Picton Dawn Chorus at a cost of $18,000.
The group aims to install about 400 traps in people’s backyards to target rats, possums, and stoats with another 300 being set up in the bush around Picton. Volunteer labour will be used to check and maintain the traps, as well as monitoring and reporting bird and pest activity.
The move is aimed at boosting the population of birds and other indigenous species whose numbers have dwindled due to the large number of predators in the area.
Picton Dawn Chorus chairman James Wilson pointed out that an increased biodiversity (as a result of predator eradication) would help improve the experience for tourists visiting the town.
Effect of the moon on rats and possums
A student from Lincoln University is studying the effects moon phases have on the level of activity of nocturnal pests such as rats and possums. The ecology masters student, Shannon Gilmore, hopes her work will help enhance pest control and reduce resource wastage.
She will be one of the first people to conduct the research using a Sky Quality Meter, an astronomer’s tool that will help her accurately measure whether the pests respond to light levels or moon cycles.
The study is being carried out on Banks Peninsula, Canterbury. Ms Gilmore believes that by predicting the level of activity of the pests, a more effective deployment of control measures can be done.
(Source and image source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/country/308729/researcher-measures-effect-of-moon-on-possums,-rats)
Rat surge in Dunedin
Dunedin is experiencing a surge in the number of rat infestations due to the unseasonably warm weather being experienced. A pest manager in the area noted that rat control jobs had increased by 50% compared to the same period last year.
Dunedin’s high temperatures during the months of May and June, combined with the occasional cold snap, are thought to be the cause of the rat surge.
Phil Seddon, a Zoology professor at the University of Otago also attributed the high population to the long summer and mild autumn experienced in Dunedin. These conditions encouraged plant growth which in turn supported vermin.