Community Pest Control

August 2009

A Community Pest Control Area operates between landowners and regional council

Puketotara Peninsula is surrounded by the Kaipara Harbour, with a narrow land access, so that it can be defended against re-infestation of pests such as possums, stoats, cats, and rats. With the agreement of four land owners, the peninsula has operated a Community Pest Control Area project since 2005, under the partial funding and direction of Northland Regional Council.

Community Pest Control Areas (CPCAs) are a first for Northland and the country. Landowners agree to sign up to the CPCA programme, under which the costs of pest control over a five-year period are split about 60% NRC and 40% landowners. CPCAs are part of the Northland Regional Pest Management Strategy and the aim is to encourage integrated pest management.

Three landowners on Puketotara peninsula and one farmer whose land includes the land access to the peninsula, agreed to commit to a CPCA in 2005. The 4000ha peninsula had not been poisoned for about a decade and the extensive 600ha of native bush was suffering major damage from possums. Oneriri station, then owned by the Walden family, is 80% of the peninsula. It is now under new ownership and is managed by Craig Douglas.

CPCAs: The criteria for establishing a CPCA include defendability against re-infestation, landowner and neighbour support, values protected or enhanced biodiversity, and the costs of control. The pests controlled include possums, rats, mustelids, cats, goats and rabbits, and an extensive list of noxious weeds, terrestrial and aquatic.

Puketotara peninsula: It is surrounded on all sides by the Kaipara Harbour, with the Otamatea and Whakaki rivers to the north and the Oruawharo to the south. At the narrow neck (200-300m) a land-owner has agreed to participate in the CPCA to act as a buffer to re-infestation. The three land-owners on the peninsula signed up to the CPCA in late 2005, with a management plan agreed between them and the NRC. The CPCA is now coming to the end of a five-year programme. In the first year (2006) the council funded a major cull of pests down to a level that the land owners could manage thereafter. In years 2 and 3 the landowners supplied or paid for labour and the NRC supplied materials and monitoring. In year 4 and 5 the land owners must also pay 50% of the cost of materials.

Oneriri has also done a major pasture development, stock watering and coastal margin and bush fencing and retirement programme, which helps to protect the regenerating native trees.

The initial poisoning was done during August 2005 with brodifacoum in cat, mustelid and rate stations, followed a week later by cyanide in possum bait stations. All bait stations are GPS logged and maps produced for each farm. Survey lines are randomly set by computer and wax tags set for possum bite marks or tacking strips for smaller pests. If more than one of 10 tags shows up it is a fail and the contractor has to re-bait the region. Cooper also has 20 photographic points where he takes pictures each year to record progress in regeneration.