The Taranaki Regional Council has decided that mustelids (ferrets, stoats and weasels) should be included in its pest management ‘rule book’, the Regional Pest Management Plan.
This means land occupiers in specified Predator Control Areas will be required to control mustelid numbers, similar to existing requirements for possum control.
Mustelids are effective and opportunistic non-indigenous predators that have been implicated in the decline and even extinction of native bird species.
So they’ve been a prime target in the roll-out Towards Predator-Free Taranaki, the multi-year programme to boost populations of native plants, birds and reptiles by removing introduced threats. This largely voluntary programme is enjoying widespread support and involvement throughout the region.
Techniques and strategies for controlling mustelids have been honed and are getting good results.
Including mustelids in the Regional Pest Management Plan will help to lock in and expand these gains. It will prevent mustelid ‘hotspots’ from forming in locations that volunteers have not reached.
How does it work?
The Council will identify ‘Predator Control Areas’ where land occupiers in a locality agree to participate in the programme. This is similar to its approach under the long-running and successful Self-Help Possum Control Programme.
In each of the Predator Control Areas, the Council would undertake initial predator control targeting mustelids. After initial predator control work has been undertaken, occupiers within the area will be required to control and maintain mustelid numbers at the reduced levels.
It is an offence under the Biosecurity Act not to comply with the Plan’s requirements.
What happens now?
A hearing for submitters was held on 23 February 2021, where Council made its final decisions in response to submissions made.
Pursuant to section 76(3) of the Biosecurity Act 1993, any persons who made a submission on the Proposal for the Regional Pest Management Plan may make an application to the Environment Court on the matters set out in section 76(2) of the Biosecurity Act 1993.
The application must be made within 15 working days after the date of the public notice first published on Saturday 27 February 2021. After that time, the revised Plan and the new rules become operative.