Possum poisoning to save Ohau Forest

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A possum control operation in the Ohau Forest, near Twizel, is scheduled to get under way this week.
The Department of Conservation plans to apply poison baits to control the pests for the protection of the forest ecosystems.
Neil Bolton, a senior ranger of biodiversity at the Twizel office, said possum control would take place in the forested areas and sub-alpine shrub lands of the Huxley, Hopkins and Dobson River valleys located to the north of Lake Ohau within the Ruataniwha Conservation Park.
Mr Bolton said the method of control would include groundbased control operations which consisted of Feratox baits containing encapsulated cyanide in bio-degradable bait bags stapled in trees.
He reminded anyone walking through the forest not to touch the bait, watch children at all times, not to take dogs into the area and not to eat animals from the area.
Mr Bolton said the primary aim of the operation was to protect Pittosporum patulum (pit pat) and beech mistletoe.
‘‘These endangered plants are particularly susceptible to possum browse.
‘‘Possum control also benefits a wide range of other values, including birds and other plant species within the area.’’
He said the Ohau Forest represented some of the best dry east coast beech forest in New Zealand.
‘‘Unfortunately, possums have caused severe damage within the forest since they invaded the area in the late 1970s,’’ Mr Bolton said.
Doc had been controlling possums in the forest since 2002 and continued control was needed to further protect the area, he said.
Anyone wanting more information is asked to contact Mr Bolton at the Twizel office on (03) 435-0802.