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1080 drop aims to control spread of TB

 

1080 is set to be dropped on the Southern Remutakas to control bovine tuberculosis spread through possums. PHOTOS/FILE

 

A drop of 1080 poison is scheduled for the southern Remutaka this month to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis [TB].

The operation run by Ospri is due to be completed by the end of July.

Ospri said in a statement circulated by South Wairarapa District Council that possum control was done, along with herd testing and movement restrictions, to help keep cattle and wild animal populations free of TB.

It urged people not to touch the poison bait, to keep a close eye on children while in the area, and not to eat animals from the area.

The instruction not to eat animals caught within the area also applied to buffer zones surrounding the treatment area.

Ospri said the poison bait and carcasses were deadly to dogs.

It said in its national aerial operations plan for 2022 that it would be operating in the Southern Remutaka and Remutaka-Hutt area.

It said the area surrounded the Orongorongo River, with a steep-sided gorge extending north towards Wainuiomata.

In Wairarapa, the operation ranged from the Wharepapa River to Turakirae Head.

The area was made up primarily of native forest and scrub.

“This area has a long history of TB in the wildlife. Infected possums and pigs have been captured as recently as 2011. The last time the area was aerially controlled was 2017.”

Ospri said the large area, and dense bush habitat, made ground access challenging and virtually impossible in some areas, meaning aerial control was the preferred method.

It said to reduce deer by-kill, it intended to use deer repellent for the operation, subject to consultation.

It said in its annual operating plan for July 2021 to June 2022 that it aimed to have all livestock free of TB by 2026, all possums free of the disease by 2040, and the disease eradicated from New Zealand by 2055.

Its strategic priorities for 2021 and 2022 were influenced by the 2020 TB Plan Health Check, as well as spikes in herd infection in Hawke’s Bay and South Westland.

“This requires us to meet serious challenges.

“Despite a strong history of TB eradication in New Zealand, reducing infected herds from 1700 to our final 40, we are now at the most difficult and complex part of our eradication journey.”

Beef and Lamb said TB was found in a herd on February 11, 2020, and at the time 28 cattle from eight herds were under management.

“Hawke’s Bay has experienced TB infections twice in the past and these were successfully managed and cleared.”

It said TB was not a highly infectious disease and had been successfully managed in New Zealand since the 1950s.

“Small clusters of disease outbreak like this are not uncommon and are expected from time-to-time in an eradication programme such as this.”

Beef and Lamb said it was very important to remember there was minimal risk to human health from bovine TB, but food safety authorities advised against the consumption of unpasteurised [raw] milk.

Ospri said it would be delivering effective and sustained possum control over large areas of remote and difficult terrain to control TB in areas that hadn’t been controlled in the past.

It said aerial 1080 baiting was the only feasible control option for these areas.

“Gaining access to much of this land is complicated by complex land access issues, restrictions or opposition to the use of 1080, and conservation considerations including protocols to protect kea.”

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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