Pest and weed control
The islands of Ipipiri in the eastern Bay of Islands, New Zealand, have enjoyed pest-free status since 2009. It is vital we keep mammalian pests and other species off the islands. We acheive this by:
- Ongoing pest control and monitoring on the islands to detect and catch pest incursions
- 3000 hectares of adjacent mainland under pest control by volunteer groups to reduce the likelyhood of pests swimming to the islands
- Ongoing biosecurity campaign targeting visitors to the islands to raise awareness of the dangers of unintentionally bringing pests with them
- The Project Island Song Weedbusters visit the islands every Wednesday (weather permitting) and target plant pests on the islands.
We need you help!
Until June 2009, there were huge numbers of rats on the islands of Ipipiri. They were gnawing through tents on Urupukapuka Island to get to campers' food; eating native birds and their eggs; and destroying the bush by eating native plant seeds. In winter of that year, the Department of Conservation eradicated all rats, mice and stoats from the seven main islands of the eastern Bay of Islands.
Part of Project Island Song’s role is to maintain the pest-free status of these islands: without rats and stoats, plants can recover and provide food for wildlife, and the birds can be returned so that the islands of Ipipiri will sing once again.
However, the islands are vulnerable to reinvasion, especially as they are within swimming distance of both rats and stoats from the mainland. This is why island pest monitoring and mainland pest control are so crucial.
Mainland pest control
Pest control on the eastern Bay of Islands mainland keeps rat and stoat numbers low, reducing the chance of pests swimming back to the islands, or stowing-away on boats and kayaks. There is a mainland buffer zone stretching from Cape Brett to Tapeka Point, north of Russell. Pest control of varying types along this “buffer” is managed and funded by a variety of groups and individuals on private and public land. The community here is seeing an improvement in ecological health as a result of this pest control - so much so they have named the mainland pest control project Te Tangi o te Ata (the Dawn Chorus).
Who is involved?
The Guardians of the Bay of Islands work with agencies, landowners and other community groups to co-ordinate mainland pest control and ensure it is well-resourced and that the work meets best practice.
- Northland Regional Council provides funding for integrated pest control in the Rawhiti area through their Community Pest Control Area (CPCA). The Council has also provided a range of traps and other equipment to the mainland pest control project through the Environment Fund. They carry out annual audits of the pest-control work and provide technical advice.
- Nga Whenua Rahui administers funding for the protection of indigenous ecosystems on Maori land. They support a large, intensively-managed pest control programme on Rakaumangamanga/Cape Brett.
- Department of Conservation in the Bay of Islands administers, monitors and audits the island-based pest control, provides technical advice, and responds to any island pest incursions with the help of their specially-trained predator dogs.
- REP NZ Ltd is a Rawhiti-based pest control contractor that does biosecurity monitoring, mainland pest control and responds to island pest incursions.
- Eastern Bay of Islands Preservation Society is a group of landowners and residents who live on the mainland in the eastern Bay of Islands. They actively carry out pest control on their own properties, as well as help fund other mainland pest-control work.
- Russell Landcare Trust is another community group that targets pests in the Russell area.
- New Zealand Kiwi Foundation is involved in various pest control projects in the Bay of Islands providing integrated pest management and restored habitat linkages throughout the area.
Trapping and baiting
Rat traps are baited with peanut butter; stoat traps with raw eggs or salted rabbit; and possum traps with long-life lure baits. Some landowners are using anti-coagulant bait, the same you could buy from local hardware shops to control rats at home.
In areas where there are kiwi and weka, the traps and bait stations are set well off the ground. If they are too low, these ground-living native birds could get their beaks caught in the traps or eat the bait by accident.
You can help control pests on the mainland: if you live in the mainland pest-control area, think about setting rat, stoat and possum traps, and laying rat bait. Contact the groups listed above for advice.
Getting rid of plant pests
The Project Island Song Weedbusters visit the islands every Wednesday (weather permitting) and target plant pests on the islands.
In summer they tackle a range of weeds on Urupukapuka Island including kahili ginger, ivy, jasmine, agapanthus, African club moss, ladder fern, woody nightshade, ink weed, apple of Sodom, wattles, and Taiwan cherry. In winter they spend time on Moturua Island mainly targeted moth plant.
Each year in May, Tim and Helen Armitage spend a month on Moturua Island targeting wattles and pines. This is part of five-year plan to significantly reduce these pest plants.