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No Christmas for possums in Hawke’s Bay

Possum 050718 1

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council voted last week to consider the use of professional contractors for possum control in the region. Responsibility for possum control could move from individual landowners to the Regional Council depending on possum numbers in local areas.

Integrated Catchment Group manager Iain Maxwell says this 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. The policy allows the Council to consider the use of a contractor model and that how this is operationalised and funded will be considered and consulted on in the development of the upcoming LTP”.

“The use of professional contractors,” noted Mr Maxwell, “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.  The 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 helps restore native bird life in our cities and towns. 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. Possums are the most likely of the Predator Free 2050 species to be the target of eradication across the New Zealand mainland.

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.

Media contact:

Mike Johansson

Director Communications and Engagement

06 835 9200 | 027 263 5986

21 December 2022

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