DOC is conducting a 1080 drop in the Matukituki Valley in Mt Aspiring National Park this month as part of the Battle for our Birds programme.
A ‘pre-feed’ drop of non-toxic cereal pellets was completed today and a follow-up 1080 drop will occur in the next two weeks, depending on weather.
Central Otago senior community ranger Annette Grieve said tracks would only be affected while the aerial drop was taking place, which would take about half a day.
“The popular tracks, like Roys Peak, will be done early in the day, so the impact on walkers will be minimal,” Grieve said.
The planned aerial 1080 treatment will cover approximately 13,725ha.
“It’s a very small area for a 1080 operation – it takes just a matter of a few hours to do the drop.”
The drop will affect both the east and west branches of the Matukituki Valley, impacting tracks including Rob Roy, French Ridge, Liverpool, Cascade Saddle, Glacier Burn and Rabbit Pass. Trampers are advised to contact the Tititea/Mt Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre in Wanaka before heading into the valley and wardens are stationed at Aspiring and French Ridge huts and will advise trampers on any operations.
Central Otago operations manager Mike Tubbs said this year was a beech mast year and the work was targeted to prevent a predator plague fueled by forest seeding.
“Results from recent monitoring showed rodent levels in the valley had reached thresholds that threaten vulnerable populations of native species,” Tubbs said.
“Without predator control at these sites, rodent numbers are expected to rise rapidly and cause a spike in stoat numbers when our native birds and bats are raising their young, and are at their most vulnerable.”
DOC was also working with a range of community partners to deliver ground-based predator control in the national park.
“Recent reports of kea and rock wren on the Rob Roy Track are encouraging and indicate that our combined effort is making a difference,” Tubbs said
Battle for our Birds is one of many programmes that support DOC’s goal of protecting threatened species and making New Zealand predator free by 2050.