1080 Operation - Hatepe
Monitoring has shown that further control work is needed in the Hatepe area to reduce the possum population and minimise the risk of the disease spreading through wild animal populations and onto farmed cattle and deer. Possum control has dramatically reduced the number of infected herds in the Waikato region. This area was last treated in 2012.
All baits will be coated with deer repellent to reduce deer by kill. The operation will begin with the distribution of non-toxic, tan-coloured cereal pellets by helicopter. This pre-feed gives possums a taste for the pellets and overcomes bait shyness. Five to ten days after the pre-feed, toxic, green cereal pellets - each containing 0.15 percent biodegradable sodium fluoroacetate (also known as 1080) - will be applied by helicopter at up to two kg per hectare. That is about one bait to every 60 square metres. The Hatepe operation will be subject to strict safety, quality-assurance and monitoring requirements.
Advanced GPS navigational equipment will be used to ensure the pellets are accurately placed and exclusion zones avoided.
METHOD A vast majority of possum control in the region is done by local contractors using ground-based traps and hand-laid toxins. The remaining, far smaller area is controlled using aerially applied pellets containing biodegradable 1080. Aerial control has been extremely successful at knocking possum numbers down to very low levels in the past and is preferred in areas like Hatepe due to the rugged nature of the terrain.
PRIOR TO THE OPERATION Before the operation, affected landowners and occupiers will be contacted and visited by one of the TBfree programmes contractors. Notices will be published in local newspapers and warning signs will be placed at all likely access points to the operational area.
BIODIVERSITY BENEFITS The operation will have additional conservation benefits for native birds and bush. Possums eat the forest canopy and prey on native birdlife, including eggs and chicks. Biodegradable 1080 is also extremely effective at controlling other introduced predators such as ship rats and stoats.