April 08, 2019
DOC gears up for record forest mast
The Department of Conservation is standing by for a mega mast or heavy seeding in New Zealand’s forests this autumn.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says extensive seed sampling across the country in February and March point to the biggest beech mast for more than 40 years with exceptionally heavy seed loads in South Island forests.
Forest seeding provides a bonanza of food for native species but also fuels rodent and stoat plagues that will pose a serious threat to native birds and other wildlife as predator populations build up next spring and summer.
DOC is planning a $38 million predator control programme to suppress rats, stoats and possums over about one million hectares or 12 per cent of conservation land.
Ms Sage says dropping 1080 is the only tool currently available that can effectively knock down rodents over large areas before they reach plague levels after a beech mast, but there will also be large scale trapping in some areas.
The Department has been consulting with iwi partners, regional councils and other pest control agencies, community groups and neighbouring landowners.
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