Molesworth Station is New Zealand’s largest working farm, spanning 180,787 hectares in the mountainous landscape of the northern South Island high country.
With over 30 years of continual infection, the Molesworth cattle herd is the longest-standing TB infected herd.
|Tarndale and Bush Gully||68,000||1080 applied, June 2021|
|Saxton Strip Sow||6200||1080 applied, June 2021|
|Severn Low Sow||5400||1080 applied, June 2021|
|Yarra / Five Mile||7700||Proposed from October 2021|
Before 2017, the TB programme focussed on keeping infected herd numbers as low as possible while trying to prove TB freedom was possible in a large-scale possum habitat.
During this period, Molesworth Station entered into a 50/50 partnership arrangement with TBfree New Zealand to undertake local wild animal control on the station. This work achieved significant reductions in the number of TB infected animals within the herd.
The plan is to eradicate TB from New Zealand by 2055, so we need to implement a substantial TB management programme for the Marlborough/Canterbury high country to achieve this.
Our national milestone of TB freedom in livestock by 2026 means we are taking a multi-pronged approach to eradicating TB in the cattle herd and possum population on Molesworth Station. We will do this through:
Our objectives are:
Molesworth Station is divided into blocks for possum control work. We achieve full coverage every three years.
Due to the mountainous nature of the environment, aerial methods of pest control ensure full coverage, and best use of time and resource.
In June 2021, we trialled two new approaches to aerial baiting.
Both trials achieved 100% poisoning of possums with lower sowing rates shown to be effective in dryland habitat where bait easily reaches the ground.
We will continue to trial these lower sowing methods in different types of terrain. They could be viable in future high-country, dry-land aerial operations.
Hunting is restricted on Molesworth as it is both a recreation reserve and a working farm. We need to balance the requirements of both.
Red deer, chamois, goats and pigs are found on the station, and hunting is restricted at times, such as during the annual goose hunt.
We consult annually on our pest control operations.
Accidental deer deaths occur during our possum control operations, even with the use of deer repellent bait.
The 2017 aerial operation in Acheron East resulted in unexpectedly high deer by-kill. A number of factors contributed to the high number of deaths, including use of bait that didn’t repel deer.
New deer repellent baits suitable for use in high-country environments are now available. In the recent 2021 Molesworth aerial operation, we focused on improving deer survival rates by:
High effectiveness of deer-repellent Prodeer 1080 possum bait in the northern South Island high country — (R-1005) Morriss, G, Yockney, I, Nugent, G. 2021.