Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Hawke’s Bay possums in Council’s sights

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has voted to deploy professional contractors for possum control in the region.

The move means responsibility for possum control will move from individual landowners to the Regional Council.

Integrated Catchment Group manager, Iain Maxwell says the decision will allow a consistently high standard of possum control across the region, with positive flow-on benefits for biodiversity around the region.

“The changes agreed to the Possum Control Area (PCA) programme is one of the most significant things the Council could do to protect and restore the region’s indigenous terrestrial biodiversity,” he said.

“The use of professional contractors along with the latest pest control tools and techniques and the ability to record a detailed range of information related to pest management programmes, all create a greater opportunity to progress from possum suppression to possum eradication across the region.”

The change was strongly supported in submissions made to the Council earlier in the year.

Council consulted with neighbouring councils and held meetings with key industry and interest groups, such as Department of Conservation, Federated Farmers, OSPRI, Beef and Lamb, and local pest control contractors, as well as affected landowners. Of the 155 submissions received, over two thirds of submissions were in favour of the change.

Possum control has been proven to help restore native bird life. Following possum control which began in Napier in 2008, bellbird numbers doubled after one year. After five years, bellbird numbers trebled, and tui quadrupled. Napier also saw the first evidence of kereru breeding in 30 years.

Council-managed possum contracting is also a key element in the region’s efforts to become predator free.

The proposition to transition the PCA programme from land occupier responsibility to contractor delivery requires a partial plan review to amend the Hawke’s Bay Regional Pest Management Plan 2018-2038 (RPMP). The initiative will be primarily funded through general rates, with a similar percentage through a targeted rate, the Council said.

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