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Animal & Plant Pests on my Farm

Pest control is essential for the health of your livestock, pasture, crops and lifestyle.

Possum Control Area (PCA) programme

Due to ongoing Cyclone Gabrielle recovery work in Hawke’s Bay, the move to Regional Council-led possum control has been put on hold.

Possum control remains the responsibility of landowners.

Read our latest update on the PCA programme

TB infection in Hawke's Bay

A recent TB infection in cattle near the Napier-Taupo road has been taken under close management by animal disease management agency OSPRI. OSPRI, which manages the national TBfree programme, has expanded its regional office in Napier to lead a response and will control stock movements in the vicinity to prevent any spread of disease.

OSPRI are currently finalising a vector management programme, as part of their response, which includes possum control. Areas within the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council PCA programme may be included in this area. Once OSPRI notifies HBRC of its planned vector management area, HBRC will contact affected PCA land occupiers to notify them they are no longer required to meet the PCA plan rule. For further information on the TB response please visit OSPRI.

Property Information

All information relating to your rural property gathered by the Regional Council – such as maps, GPS points of bait stations, etc – is available to you free of charge.  You can contact the Biosecurity team directly to request supply of any information the Regional Council holds.

There is also information here that is available to you for free.  You can create your own maps or search records.  Please let us know if you use any of our open data in an innovative way or as a new application, as we’d be interested to learn about it.

Animal Pests on your farm

We’ve had a huge focus on possums in Hawke’s Bay through the Possum Control Area (PCA) programme over the past sixteen years and control work now covers 710,000 hectares. 

Due to ongoing Cyclone Gabrielle recovery work in Hawke’s Bay, the move to Regional Council-led possum control has been put on hold. Possum control remains the responsibility of landowners.

Your possum control for your property must be completed before 30 June each year.  Monitoring may be undertaken where your possum numbers need to be kept under the 4% trap catch rate.

Possums are designated as a Regional Control Animal Pest through the Regional Pest Management Strategy. Possums are omnivores so, as well as being large pasture and native grazers, they will eat birds eggs and chicks, and they are a known vector for Bovine TB.

At any point you must be under the 4% trap catch rate, so maintenance is essential.

Bait Subsidy

Possum bait for bait stations is still subsidised by the regional council at 40%.  Bait is available from Farmlands and PGG Wrightson stores around Hawke’s Bay.

Forestry and commercial forests within the PCA programme

Commercial production forests and forestry companies within the PCA programme are obligated to maintain possum numbers within a 500 meter buffer zone from the pasture edge into their forest blocks.

It is important for both farmers and forest owners to undertake possum control on these boundaries as both these margins offer possums feed and denning sites, making the control of possums a common shared responsibility.

QEII Blocks

QEII blocks within the PCA programme are maintained in two ways by HBRC

1                     Under 20 ha blocks are supplied bait stations and bait free of charge

2                     Over 20 ha blocks will be fully serviced by an HBRC approved contractor, supplying free bait stations, bait and labour.


Rooks are declared a pest under the Hawke's Bay Regional Pest Management Strategy. These 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 have a bad reputation for stripping crops, damaging pasture, and the noise from large rookeries can be a problem.

HBRC’s rook control programme has the objective of eradicating rooks in the region. Work is principally by helicopter where bait is applied by hand directly to each nest by an operator slung underneath.

HBRC also does ground control when large numbers of birds are on paddocks and crops.

When is the best time for control?

September and October each year is when HBRC’s rook control programme is in operation.

Our Biosecurity team and contractors contact farmers with known rookeries beforehand to advise them that the programme is recommencing.  They assess any hazards or manage any farmer concerns about overflying stock or property. Each visit by the helicopter takes 5-20 minutes once a year.

If you see 30 or more birds on paddocks you should contact HBRC Biosecurity staff.  A contractor can be organised to undertake ground control.

What can you do?

The best thing to do is contact HBRC’s pest management team about grazing rooks, nests or rookeries. Our biosecurity team will discuss the problem and solutions, and ensure prompt action is taken - 0800 108 838.

IMPORTANT - Please avoid any individual control or scare tactics as this can move the rooks on or delay our ability to control them.





Rabbits are designated a regional control animal pest, but landowners/occupiers are responsible for the control of rabbits on their land (as set out in the HB Animal Pest Management Strategy).

The level of immunity to rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) is on the increase.

Parts of Hawke’s Bay have had major rabbit problems, mostly attributable to droughts, soil type, land development, pasture fertility, habitat and farming practices. Rabbit populations vary from location to location but can explode during times of optimum conditions.  Rabbit prone areas in Hawke’s Bay are around pumice soils, coastal sand dunes and river beds such as the Waipawa, Tukituki, Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri.

Bait not always the best solution

The use of Pindone (rabbit pellets) is widespread, but it is not always the best way to tackle all rabbit problems. 

A better approach is to start with a free consultation with our rabbit contractor, who can give you advice and direction on:

  • the best control methods to suit your property
  • managing control within a neighbourhood group of property owners.

Book Your Consultation

A consultation with our pest contractor will help you better tailor rabbit control to meet your specific needs - such as crops or stock management, and the size of the rabbit population.

Contact our designated rabbit control contractor –

Jake Bowcock, Rural Pest Services Ltd - email Jake here

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council can assist landowners and community groups who want to protect and enhance the biodiversity of specific sites.

The amount of control and assistance will depend on  the technical feasibility and the level of ongoing community support for a potential programme.

An assessment will also be made of the ecological values that require protecting and the level of threat so that an appropriate control programme can be developed and implemented.

The animals can be considered for site specific pest control:

  • feral goats
  • deer
  • pigs
  • mustelids (ferrets, stoats, weasels)
  • feral cats
  • rats (ship and Norway).

Site specific programmes are set up primarily in areas of high biodiversity value, The formation of a programme and the level of subsidy is entirely at HBRC’s discretion.

For areas where a site specific programme is not appropriate, subsidised products for some species are available from Farmlands and Wrightson stores (40% off selected products). 

HBRC Biosecurity staff can advise on pest birds in Hawke’s Bay, or directs callers to stock and station agents.

Pest birds, such as pigeons on crops, can be controlled using treated grains, or specific paste can be applied to baits.  These can be purchased from rural supply stores, like Farmlands. Although these products do not need a license to use, you should always read the label and follow the instructions carefully before administering poisons correctly. 

Contractors can be employed to undertake specific bird poisoning.  Check with the contractors listed within  this publication may be available to help with the control of  pest birds.

Alternatively there are some shooting clubs in Hawke’s Bay that consider pigeon shooting as a sport and may be able to help control populations in your area.

Contact 0800 108 838 for advice.

Plant Pests on your farm

A large number of introduced plant species have naturalised in Hawke's Bay, to the extent that we have more introduced plants growing wild than our native species.

Many of these are considered weeds, but some cause serious harm to the environment or economic loss to agriculture and are deemed 'pest plants'.  For these pests, Hawke's Bay Regional Council has management plans in place, developed with community input, to meet the requirements of the Biosecurity Act 1993. 

The Plant Pest Strategy’s objectives are to:

  • reduce the density and extent of pest plants,
  • increase awareness of the public of the need to recognise and control these pests, and
  • ensure that pest plants listed in the strategy are not imported into the region, sold or distributed.

All pest plants are banned from sale, propagation or distribution under the Biosecurity Act 1993.                

Different pest plants require different levels of control, so they are grouped into 3 categories

  1. Total Control
  2. Boundary Control
  3. Regional Surveillance.

A good reference for identifying weeds is the Weedbusters website.

A total control pest plant is one with limited distribution in the region, and the long-term goal is to eradicate it completely. These pest plants must be destroyed or prevented from seeding wherever they appear.  Responsibility for control of these pests usually rests with the land occupier, although in some cases HBRC will undertake control, or assist the land occupier to do so.

Total Control pest plants in Hawke’s Bay are -  African Feather Grass, Apple of Sodom, Australian Sedge, Chilean Needlegrass, Chinese Privet, Cotton Thistle, Goats Rue, Japanese Honeysuckle, Nasella Tussock, Old Man’s Beard, Pinus contorta, Phragmites, Saffron Thistle, Spiny Emex, Tree Privet, White Edged Nightshade, Woolly Nightshade, Yellow Water Lily.

A boundary control pest plant is one that is abundant in suitable habitats in the region. The long term goal is to prevent the plant spreading to new areas or neighbouring properties. Because these plants are widespread, the cost of eradication is considered too great to justify more rigorous methods of control.

The Strategy requires land occupiers to keep their property boundary free of the pest plant if it is not present within a defined distance of their neighbour’s property. Boundary Control pest plants are banned from sale, propagation and distribution under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Boundary Control Pest Plants in Hawke’s Bay are - Bathurst Bur, Blackberry, Gorse, Nodding Thistle, Ragwort, Variegated Thistle.

Regional Surveillance pest plants have characteristics that may make these become a problem over time, or there are no known effective control methods. The focus for managing these pest plants is on preventing their spread by voluntary control, and monitoring their presence to gather information. This information will help determine what problems they pose, and whether they will need more rigorous control in the future. 

Aquatic pest plants in Hawke’s Bay are - Egeria densa , Hornwort, Hydrilla, Parrot’s Feather, Sth African Oxygen Weed (Lagarosiphon major)

Land pest plants in Hawke’s Bay are – Nut Grass, Pyp or ‘pipe’ grass, Wild oat  

Chilean Needlegrass is one of the most serious pest plants in Hawke’s Bay. HBRC is part of a nationwide campaign to limit the spread.

Chilean needle grass (Nassella neesiana) is a Total Control (Occupier Responsibility) Pest Plant in the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Regional Pest Management Plan 2018-2018.  This is an invasive weed that out-competes productive pasture grasses and takes over large areas if left uncontrolled. Its seeds have a sharp, needle like tip which attaches easily to stock and can penetrate skin and muscle. This can cause painful abscesses for the animal, and can lead to downgrading of pelts, meat or wool. The seed can also injure horses and dogs. It is unpalatable to stock when it is seeding (November to January), reducing the stock carrying capacity on a property.

 chilean needle grass




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