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Animal Pest ManagementĀraitanga Kararehe Orotā

We manage extensive programmes - in both town and country - to keep possums to the low levels we have now achieved in Hawke’s Bay, control rooks, and support farmers with rabbit control. We may be able to assist with feral goats, deer, pigs, mustelids (Stoats, weasels) and feral cats.

Animal Pests

Animal pests have a significant and adverse effect on the region's pasture, bush, and water quality and consequently on human health and the regional economy.

Regional control animal pests are possums, rabbits, and rooks. 

We manage extensive programmes - in both town and country - to keep possums to the low levels we have now achieved in Hawke’s Bay. We have set a Rook Eradication Zones with the objective of eradicating rooks north of State Highway 5.  We can support farmers in controlling rabbits.

Site specific programmes can be set up for some species under certain circumstances, ie feral goats, deer, pigs, mustelids and feral cats.

What we do?

the Regional Council’s Animal Pest Advisory Team is responsible for the day to day management of the Regional Council’s animal pest programmes and site specific control work, plus advisory services. Ground work is chiefly carried out by contractors.

What you can do to help

​We rely on Hawke's Bay residents to be our eyes and ears looking out and reporting unusual organisms so we can respond immediately. Whether you are a landowner, lifestyle property owner or urban resident, there are animal pests that will require dealing with at some time or another.

Find out more about specific animal pests in our information sheets.

If you would like help with a pest control problem, or wish to report anything you think our Pest Control team should know about you can do so on our Fix It page.

Plant pests & management programmes

The animals listed below are classified as pests. Each animal falls in to one of the following management programmes:

  • Sustained control - To provide for ongoing control of the subject, or an organism being spread by the subject, to reduce its impact on values and spread onto other properties.
  • Site led - The subject, or an organism being spread by the subject,b that is capable of causing damage to a place is excluded or eradicated from that place, or is contained, reduced, or controlled within the place to an extent that protects the values of that place.
  • Eradication - To reduce the infestation level of the subject, or an organism being spread by the subect, to zero levels in an area in the short to medium term.
  • Exclusion - To prevent the establishment of the subject, or an organism being spread by the subject, that is present in New Zealand but not yet established in an area.
  • Progressive containment - To contain or reduce the geographic distribution of the subkect, or an organism, being spread by the subject, to an area over time.
Common name Scientific name Programme Description
Feral cat Felis catus Sustained control
What does it look like? Feral and stray cats originate from domesticated cats though they are often in poor physical condition. Their needs are not provided by humans, and they are usually wary of humans and aggressive when cornered or captured. Cats can be found in most terrestrial habitats including urban areas, production landscapes, and natural areas.
Why is it a problem? Cats are generalist predators and can have large home ranges.  It is estimated that feral, stray and pet cats kill up to 100 million birds in New Zealand each year.  They are a major predator of kiwi chicks and also eat eggs, lizards, invertebrates and frogs. They are prolific breeders.
Feral deer Cervus elaphus, nippon and dama Site-led What does it look like? There are three species of deer in Hawke's Bay, Red, Sika, and Fallow. Red deer and Fallow deer are farmed but Sika deer is present only as a result of illegal releases.  Red deer is the largest of the three, and sometimes has white spots around the spine.  Sika deer has spots, and Fallow deer change colour as they grow, brown-black, back with paler grey-brown underside and neck, and no spots.
Why is it a problem? Deer are selective browsers and target particular forest species over others. This can result in significant changes to forest composition and has effects on the fauna that rely on those plants. Deer can destroy the understorey of native forest by browsing, grazing, bark stripping and trampling, which in turn may increase soil erosion.  Feral deer can reduce production by damaging crops and exotic forests. They have also been implicated in the transmission of bovine Tb.
Feral goat Capra hircus Sustained control
What does it look like? Feral goats vary in size and colour, and have a 'blocky' appearance, with stout strong legs designed for climbing. They weigh between 25 and 55kg depending on age and gender. They travel in small groups, browse on a range of plant species, and are able to occupy a variety of climates and habitats.
Why is it a problem? Goats damage and consume low vegetation and, when combined with possum damage to the upper canopy, severe deterioration of the forest occurs, and pest plant invasion can occur. They are prolific breeders.
Feral pig Sus scrofa Site-led What does it look like? Feral pigs are smaller and more muscular than domestic pigs.  They are usually black but they can be ginger, sandy brown, white, grey or combinations of these colours, and have triangular tusks.
Why is it a problem? Feral pigs eat a wide variety of food including grasses, roots, seeds and other plant material as well as carrion, invertebrates (e.g. snails), and ground-nesting birds.  They damage forests by uprooting trees and saplings and eating native plants and invertebrates.  They also eat pasture and crops and are known to be carriers of bovine Tb and leptospirosis.
Hedgehog Erinaceus europaeis Site-led What does it look like? Hedgehogs are gray-brown in colour with its backs and sides entirely covered with spikes. They prefer lowland pastoral areas and are found in forests.
Why are they a problem? They are a major predator on eggs and chicks of riverbed breeding birds, and kill invertebrates such as snails, lizards, and skinks.
Mustelids (ferret, stoat, weasel) Mustela furo, Mustela nivalis vulgaris, Mustela erminea Sustained control
What does it look like? Ferrets, stoats, and weasels all belong to a group of animals called mustelids. Ferrets are the largest of the three growing to around 60cm long, and are usually dark brown or blackish. Stoats are the most common of the three, have a chestnut brown coat, and are about half the size of a rabbit. Weasels are the smallest and least common of the three, and have a similar colouring to the stoat but with a more red-brown coat and a shorter tail.
Why is it a problem? Mustelids cam be devistating to native bird life and other fauna. Stoats are extremely fierce and will kill more prey then they need, and will attack prey much larger than themselves. Ferets mainly hunt rabbits and hares, but also feed on native birds, including kiwi, little blue penguins, possums, and lizards. Weasels hunt native birds and lizards.
Possum Trichosurus vulpecula Eradication
Sustained control
What does it look like? Possums are a small nocturnal marsupial with a sharp face, pointed ears and a distinctive bushy tail. Animals are usually grey, black or brown with a light under-belly. Possums make a loud rasping call at night.
Why is it a problem? Possums damage native trees by eating leaves, shoots, berries and flowers, killing vegetation and depriving native species of food and habitat. Possums also eat the eggs and young of native birds. Possums pose a threat to agriculture by grazing pasture, crops and tree plantations. They also spread bovine Tb, which threatens New Zealand’s export cattle, deer and dairy industries.
Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculis Sustained control What does it look like? Rabbits are small mammals with strong hind legs and sharp incisors. They range in colour but are mainly a light brown. The most common in New Zealand is the European Rabbit.
Why are they a problem? Rabbits breed prolifically and compete directly with domestic stock for grazing, reducing the amount of pasture available. It has been estimated 10 rabbits eat as much pasture as one sheep. Over-grazing also damages vegetation and leaves the soil exposed and vulnerable to erosion from wind and water. Rabbit burrowing encourages tunnel erosion and rabbits damage young timber tree crops, horticultural crops such as commercially grown vegetables, as well as fruit trees in orchards. In urban areas they can damage gardens.
Rat (Norwegian and ship) Rattus norvegicus and rattus rattus Site-led What does it look like? There are two common species of rat in New Zealand, Norway and ship. The Norway rat has a grey-brown and shaggy coat and have a longer tail than the ship rat. Rats are mainly nocturnal.  They have a varied diet that includes native birds, eggs, chicks, invertebrates, frogs, and lizards.  They eat large quantities of native seeds, either from the ground or straight from the tree. Norway rats are common in wet habitats and urban areas, and ship rats are found in most areas.
Why is it a problem? Since their arrival in New Zealand, Norway rats and Ship rats have had significant impacts on native flora and fauna. They have been implicated in the decline of many native species including the Bellbird (Korimako), Robin (Toutouwai), and Saddleback (Tiekie). They are prolific breeders.
Rook Corvus frugilegus Eradication What does it look like? Rooks are a large bird approximately 50 cm in length (adult) with a glossy black plumage with a slightly purple tint and have a distinct harsh call “kaah” or “caw”. On the rooks forehead and throat area is a grayish/white piece of scaly skin, which extends from the base of the bill to the nostrils, which develops when the bird is at least one year old.
Why is it a problem? They are the most destructive introduced birds known to our farming sector, due to the sheer numbers of birds in congregations that may range into the thousands. These birds can strip crops in a matter of days, and flocks of rooks foraging in paddocks for grass grub and worms damage paddocks.
Wallaby (Bennet's dama, parma, brush-tailed rock, and swamp) Macropus rufogriseus, M. eugenii, parama, Petrogale pencillata, Wallabia bicolour Exclusion What does it look like? Wallabies are small marsupial animals that look like small kangaroos.  They are silver-grey to dark brown in colour.  Wallabies live in scrub, native forest, and production forests.  They prefer the edges of these habitats, where there is dense vegetation and easy access to grassy areas (e.g. paddocks) where they can feed at night.
Why is it a problem? They eat grasses, native shrubs and trees.  Their browsing of native plants changes vegetation composition with subsequent negative impacts on the indigenous flora and fauna.




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