Kararehe Kino - Animal Pest Research Issue 31
In this issue
Welcome to the latest edition of Kararehe Kino, which is a little different from its predecessors. Firstly, we have made a subtle change to its sub-title: from ‘Vertebrate Pest Research’ to ‘Animal Pest Research’.
Conservation dogs for controlling and monitoring invasive species
Since prehistoric times hunters have used dogs to help find and capture their quarry. Today specially trained dogs are also used in conservation, including monitoring rare or endangered species and detecting invasive plants and animals. Manaaki Whenua researchers have been studying the use of conservation dogs to manage invasive species.
Managing invasive mammals to conserve threatened seabirds in South America
Seabirds and invasive mammals do not get along well when sharing islands. This is true both in New Zealand and around the globe. As a result, the suppression of invasive mammal populations (i.e. reducing their numbers) and, whenever possible, eradication are priority actions to conserve seabirds.
Predator Free 2050
The mission to make New Zealand predator free by 2050, eradicating introduced predatory mammals critically threatening native biodiversity, is building momentum. A survey conducted last year by Wellington City Council reported that 84% of Wellingtonians support ridding the city of such predators and 69% are willing to be actively involved.
Rapid-repeat ‘dual’ 1080: Can 1080 survivors be killed with a second sowing of 1080?
Achieving 100% kill of possums and rats in a single low-cost operation spanning just a few months is an aspirational goal for Manaaki Whenua − Landcare Research (MWLR) scientists Graham Nugent, Bruce Warburton and Grant Morriss. Doing so at very large scales in remote forest and mountain land would simultaneously result in such areas being immediately free of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in possums, and achieve local possum and rat freedom. This could greatly speed up progress towards the twin national goals of predator freedom by 2050 and eradication of TB by 2055.
Monitoring a sika deer population with trail cameras to assess survival following 1080 baiting
During aerial 1080-baiting operations against possums wild deer are also often poisoned. In areas where wild deer are valued by hunters and landowners, a deer repellent can be added to the bait to reduce this by-kill. Epro deer repellent (EDR) has been used for this purpose for more than a decade, and studies have demonstrated greatly reduced incidental by-kill of red deer and fallow deer when EDR is added to 1080 baits. However, the effectiveness of EDR in reducing the by-kill of sika deer has not been assessed.
Improving possum capture rates by modifying leghold trap sets
Double-coil spring leghold traps are used to capture possums for pest control, fur recovery and population monitoring. For monitoring, a standardised method (described by the National Pest Control Agencies; NPCA 2015) for setting traps is used. Traps are bedded into the substrate, approximately one hand width from the trunk of a tree, and with the trap dog (latch) nearest the tree. The trap chain is stapled to the tree and a blaze of flour and icing sugar (5:1 mix) is spread on the tree behind the trap to act as a visual and food lure to encourage possums to approach and step on the trap. However, research has shown that on their first visit to a trap set that follows this protocol, only 40–50% of possums are caught.
Winners and losers in the battle for New Zealand’s biodiversity
South Island robin. South Island robin. New Zealand’s (NZ’s) sanctuaries play a critical role in mainland restoration, as exemplars of what can be achieved when pests are controlled to low numbers. As well as managing pests, reintroducing missing indigenous species and inspiring communities in local conservation, some sanctuaries also monitor biodiversity and present an incredibly valuable opportunity for improving our understanding of biodiversity responses to pest control.
Community group finds no increase in rat numbers as possum numbers are reduced
Competitor release is an ecological interaction in which controlling or eradicating one pest species causes another competing species to increase in number. For example, in some New Zealand forests, after possums and ship rats are controlled with widespread toxic baiting ship rat numbers climb higher than before control.
Emerging invasive species: global rises resulting from increased accessibility of new sources
Thousands of species have been introduced into regions outside their native ranges by humans, and many have become permanent additions to local faunas and floras. The number of these established alien species has markedly increased worldwide during the past two centuries. Our ability to predict the identity of future invasive alien species is largely based on knowledge of prior invasion history. Therefore, emerging alien species — those never encountered as aliens before — pose a significant challenge to assessing biosecurity risk.
Using unrewarding prey cues to reduce predation
New Zealand’s endemic fauna evolved in the presence of avian predators that hunt using sight. As a result, our fauna is visually cryptic but has few defences against introduced mammals that hunt primarily using smell. Olfactory predators are novel to New Zealand, creating a mismatch between visual defences and olfactory hunting strategies. The results have been devastating.
Public participation required for the broad-scale eradication of electric ants from Queensland
Electric ants (Wasmannia auropunctata) were first detected in the Cairns area in northern Queensland in May 2006, near to a World Heritage-listed rainforest. This was the first record of an established incursion of this species in Australia, whose native range is South and Central America. The electric ant is considered by the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature to be one of the world’s worst invasive species.
Recent publications in relation to animal pest research.