Waikato Regional Council is urging hunters not to use dogs in the Whareorino–Herangi Ranges, and surrounding land in the western King Country, once a large possum control operation gets underway.
The previously announced operation - to be jointly funded by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Waikato Regional Council - will be carried out by experienced local operator EcoFX. The earliest start date for the operation is 23 April.
The first phase of the operation will cover 25,000 hectares of forest using baits dropped from helicopters. A non-toxic pre-feed will be laid first, followed by 1080 pellets baits a week or more later.
The second phase of the operation involves 8,000 hectares of ground control on the surrounding farmland and smaller patches of bush.
Possum numbers have risen considerably since the last big operation in 2006, meaning the operations are likely to kill a lot of possums. If dogs eat poisoned carcasses they can die as well. So hunting with dogs is strongly discouraged from the start of the operation until the end of the caution period. This will probably be 4 to 6 months after the operation has finished, depending on rainfall and temperatures over winter.
The scale of the operation reflects the high environmental and biodiversity values in the Whareorino and Herangi Ranges.
The possum control method being used in the latest operation will also drop rat numbers down for a period.
High on the ranges is a unique wetland (cushion bogs) and the most important population of Archey’s Frog in New Zealand.
DOC has just completed a six year study of rat predation on frogs, which found that frog numbers clearly decline without rat control.
The area to be treated also has large and important examples of coastal forest trees that will benefit from low possum numbers. Goat control over the past two years has also removed around 3000 goats from the forests.