Introduction

Black backed gulls targeted nesting near Te Anau airport are the target of a population control operation this week.

Date:  19 November 2012

Black backed gulls targeted nesting near Te Anau airport are the target of a population control operation this week.

Department of Conservation (DOC) received an application for the Te Anau Manapouri Airport to undertake the cull to alleviate bird strike hazard at the airport. The growing bird numbers, a hazard to aircraft, will be targeted using alpha-chloralose.

The project aims to reduce numbers by poisoning birds at two of their main nesting colonies: the Kepler Mire and Stuart Farm wetlands. Two consecutive fine weather days are required for the application of Alpha Chloralose, and these were 19 and 20 November.

Targeting the nesting populations over several years will signal to the birds that the location is not an ideal nesting site, encouraging remaining birds to make their home elsewhere. Around 150 nests were recorded last year, and nests have increased to nearly 400 this year.

Lindsay Wilson, Biodiversity Manager for Te Anau Area said the current location of the colony is not ideal. "Aside from the obvious hazard to aircraft at these sites, their presence brings introduced grasses to the Kepler Mire, and long term will negatively affect this special area."

Airport manager Evan Pearce said the airport authority was required, under Civil Aviation regulations, to reduce the risk of bird strike, and the gulls pose a hazard.

Approval to undertake the poisoning has been gained from DOC, the Southland District Council, the Ministry of Health and neighbouring landowners. Dead birds will be collected on site and buried, but if anyone finds a dead black back gull this week please do not touch it. Contact the Department of Conservation, so it can be collected.

Contact

Norm Macdonald
Team Leader for Ecosystem Protection & Restoration
Department of Conservation
Phone: +64 3 249 0200
Email: nmacdonald@doc.govt.nz

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