The TBfree programme aims to progressively eradicate TB in possums through control work in TB Management Areas. This is achieved by managing possum populations (possums spread TB between wildlife and livestock) with ground and aerial operations.

Southern North Island Operations

This map shows the extent of TBfree pest control and survey operations in support of TB eradication in livestock and wildlife over the past decade. Operations proposed for the near future can be found in the OSPRI disease management operations consultation document.

Map of Southern North Island control areas

Southern North Island control area

Information for pet owners

Dogs are highly susceptible to 1080 and other vertebrate toxic agents (VTAs). Please read and follow the directions on any signage posted in pest control areas.

OSPRI is dedicated to ensuring pet owners are kept well informed on pest control operations. Notification will be sent to clubs and animal care providers, and signage will be placed in areas where dogs are exercised. If you'd like more information, call our Contact Centre on 0800 482 463.

Why OSPRI undertakes pest control

OSPRI conducts pest control and surveillance operations that target possums and ferrets to help protect New Zealand against predators and disease. Stoats and rats are secondary targets as they feed off toxic possum and rat carcasses after a pest control operation. Possums and ferrets are identified as the main vectors which spread TB. To eradicate TB, possums and ferret populations need to be reduced and kept low to ensure the disease is removed from the population. Added benefits to the reduction of possum and ferret numbers is native vegetation, bird and bat species are less likely to be predated on.

Biodiversity benefits

Possums and ferrets are the main targets of TBfree control programmes. Possums browse on native vegetation, reducing the habitat and food sources available for native wildlife species.

Possums are known to prey on native birdlife including eggs and chicks. If the possum population is reduced, native species have a higher chance of survival.

OSPRI works with Southern North Island community groups to protect native species throughout the region. TBfree possum control operations and bait station work to reduce predator numbers, and ongoing work from community groups ensures predator numbers stay low. Low predator numbers have seen kiwi, kaka and other native species thrive in the region.

These community groups include:

  • Remutaka Forest Park Trust, dedicated to protecting and restoring the unique flora and fauna of the Remutaka Forest Park
  • Capital Kiwi, the biggest issue for kiwi is mustelid predation of the nest. This group organises predator control to support the nation's iconic bird
  • Kiwis for Kiwi, a national charity supporting community-led and Maori-led kiwi conservation projects with the vision of taking kiwi from endangered to everywhere
  • Aorangi Restoration Trust. By 2045, the Trust aims to have restored the Aorangi Forest and its surroundings to the state where the indigenous forest, coastal and marine ecosystems are healthy, and its streams, rivers and wetlands are clean and abundantly inhabited, and provide ecosystem services that benefit the rural and urban economies of South Wairarapa and offer places for recreation for the wider Wellington region
  • Pukaha National Wildlife Centre. The Mount Bruce Reserve is a restored forest and captive breeding site. It's home to endangered wildlife such as takake, kokako, kaka and longfin eels. Pukaha sits on the border between Wairarapa and Tararua
  • Project Kaka. Through an intensive 10-year pest control and monitoring programme, DOC and other organisations and volunteers are working to target species that are the biggest threat to native bird life and forest systems. The project aims to restore the diverse native forest bird, insect and plant communities in Tararua Forest Park
  • Predator Free NZ. Predator Free 2050 brings together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, non-government organisations, businesses, science and research organisations, communities, landowners and individuals.

OSPRI TB work protects Pūkaha Mt Bruce birds

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Methodology

OSPRI works towards TB freedom through a variety of methods:

  • herd movement control
  • TB testing of herds
  • pest control.

Pest control operations are mostly ground based, supplemented by aerial control and wildlife surveys.

Predator free volunteers and other conservation groups are working hard towards predator freedom in the Wellington suburbs. OSPRI hopes to support these groups in their goals towards predator freedom.

Infographic showing how we control TB

Challenges

One of the main challenges OSPRI faces is high urban population close to areas that need to prove TB freedom. The urban population may not have the awareness of the impacts TB has on the farming community, so may not see the need for TB control in their area.

For TB freedom to occur, the possum population needs to be reduced to, and kept below, 2% RTC (Residual Trap Capture). The RTC percentage means out of 100 traps set in one night, only 2 would catch possums. This percentage ensures reduced interaction between possums, limiting the spread of TB infection. Standard procedures are used in remote areas and farmland to ensure these low numbers are reached, may not be possible in an area where there are high urban populations, high pet populations and high recreational use. Pest control options in the Lower North Island region especially the areas within Wellington City and nearby suburbs, will require unique control methods to reach TB freedom.

Research and links