Date of this Version
Vertebrate pest control in New Zealand is changing as a result of a reduction in state funding. Monetary assistance for control programs is being withdrawn at $0.8 million per year and currently is $5.4 million. This reduction affects several parts of the organization and the Agricultural Pests Destruction Council has initiated various programs to rationalize control. The major effect of reducing assistance is that the landowners have to contribute more money. The necessity of blanket control of rabbits is now questioned and two investigations are underway to determine the extent of the areas where rabbit control is required and demonstrate the effects of withdrawing any form of control from certain land classes. A national recording scheme is being implemented and computerization with a common format will enable pest districts to pinpoint problems and the APDC to summarize the national scene. Changes in technology have enabled the work force involved in control to reduce from 1200 (1972) to 400 (1986) with no apparent increase in reported pest problems. These changes include increased mechanization of bait manufacture, improvements in ground-laying techniques from 4-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles and use of fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. Increased reliance is placed on Rhodamine bait trials for deciding whether poisoning programs go ahead and trials of anticoagulants for rabbit control are continuing. An Environmental Impact Report on the introduction of rabbit fleas and the virus myxomatosis was commissioned by the APDC but not submitted for audit because of public opposition, uncertainties in performance, and perceived technical problems relating to the establishment of the rabbit flea in parts of the problem areas.