OSPRI TB work protects Pūkaha Mt Bruce birds


Caption: Large-scale possum control interrupts the infection cycle in wildlife, so disease dies out. That keeps cattle and deer safe from TB. Possum control also removes the stoats, ferrets and rats that devastate our taonga birds, lizards and snails. 
TBfree work helped created natural sanctuaries such as Pūkaha Mt Bruce by the Tararua Range. 
John Bissel — Predator Manager, Pūkaha, Wairarapa 

We're here in Pūkaha, which is a pretty special place in the Wairarapa. The project itself has been running for many, many years as a restoration project. It's fairly substantial in size, it's 942 hectares inside the reserve itself. There's a buffer of around 2,700 hectares around that and the predator control itself is sort of carried out by a number of people, myself included. 
Pūkaha is about bringing the Māori back to the bush, which is the life force of the bush. And really, you know, front and centre of that is removing pests, because if you get rid of enough of the bad stuff, the good stuff will take care of itself. 
There's a full suite of pests and predators here. Possums are, and were, or were a pretty major pest and predator in Pūkaha. There were big numbers of possums here, so obviously with the TB free work that's happened in the surrounding landscape, possums are at a really low, low number and still are. The we've had really good support from our regional council partners in maintaining really, really low numbers of possums in the buffers surrounding Pūkaha. 
Inside the reserve now, we're almost at zero density possums. We're targeting and chasing individuals here now and we believe we can get them down to none. But we've got a bunch of other predators, we've got all three mustelid species here: ferrets, stoats, weasels. Feral cats are a big predator here. And we've got ship rats, Norway rats and mice as well. 
If we did 300 chew cards, spread out through the reserve and we left them there for a month at the start of the year, and we had one possum that chewed a chew card out on the edge of the reserve, and we got it. 
So Pūkaha  grows great birds, it's got an amazing environment out there. The undergrowth is incredible. We've got really good podocarp forest and regeneration, so there's an absolute smorgasbord of food out there for both good and bad species and the more we can reduce animals in the landscapes surrounding an area like Pūkaha, the less animals are then moving back into the reserve. 
We're surrounded by farmland here and we have tremendous support from our local landowners. They really do make all the difference to Pūkaha. If we didn't have that support, we could not achieve what we're achieving. 
Our species are now moving out into other areas and inhabiting those areas and taking them over. We've got Kōkako, we're seeing them outside of the reserve in Pūkaha. We've had Kiwis out in bush gulley's on the farmland. We've got Kākā flying between here and the Tararuas constantly. 
The Ruamahanga River is amazing, down the road here, often when I'm tramping down that area, I can hear Kākā flying up and down the Ruamahanga River between the farmland and the Tararua Forest Parks. So, you know, it works two ways and it's a great partnership really. 
We've got a thing called Pūkaha to Palliser, which is sort of from here to the south coast. We've also got the Aorangi project and we've got all sorts of restoration projects.  
What I like to do is think of them as stepping stones. If we can connect and join those steppingstones, then we're really starting to get some gains across the landscape as well. 
The big thing with predator control is you can't take your foot off the accelerator. The moment you stop is the moment they start regaining ground. 
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