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1080 Low Risk to Fernbirds

( The Department of Conservation says a West Coast research project has confirmed that 1080 poses only a minimal risk to fernbird populations.

Tim Shaw, DOC’s West Coast Technical Support Officer, said 30 fernbirds were radio tracked through a recent 1080 operation in the Ianthe Forest, 50km south of Hokitika, with the loss of three birds to poison.

“Some loss of individual birds was anticipated but the results indicate 1080 has a low population impact on this species, particularly as these birds are very good breeders and they are now heading into a breeding season with a much reduced predator threat,” Mr Shaw said.

The research project targeted fernbird habitat in the Ianthe Forest which was part of the Animal Health Board’s programme to protect the dairy, cattle and deer industries in South Westland from TB -infected possums.

Mr Shaw said the 1080-laced pellets used are highly effective against imported mammals, such as possums and rats, but native birds are far less susceptible to the toxin. The cereal pellets are also spiked with cinnamon to deter native birds.

Initially, 36 fernbirds were fitted with miniature transmitters, however, five transmitters were dropped early in the study and a sixth fernbird was killed by a predator early on as well.

Mr Shaw said the research tracked a statistically robust sample of 30-fernbirds through a long dry period following a standard aerial 1080 operation using RS5 cereal baits sown at 2kg per hectare.

“There were 15 days of dry weather following the operation which arguably provided us with a worst case scenario for length of exposure for this species,” Mr Shaw said.

While the benefits from 1080 for fernbirds were not being considered in the study, Mr Shaw said it was reasonable to expect benefits to those proven for similar native species such as bush robin.

“Bush robin have a broadly similar ecology to fernbirds and a study of bush robins has shown a 700% increase in fledgling success in 1080 areas – despite an initial mortality of around 10 percent of birds,” Mr Shaw said.

The final analysis of the results of this research will include recommendations of what further research is required, Mr Shaw said.

Media Release 19 August 2010 from Department of Conservation.



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