A rat eats a snail
Image: Nga Manu Images | Creative Commons

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


High rat numbers in the Pukaha Forest are threatening rare native birds prompting increased pest control measures by DOC and the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board.

Date:  03 October 2018

DOC and the Pukaha Mount Bruce Board have been doing pest control in the Mount Bruce Scenic Reserve since 2001.

The success of the pest control programme has enabled the reintroduction of kākā, kōkako and kiwi and allowed native bird populations such as tūī, bellbird, kererū, whiteheads and rifleman to boom.

Pukaha Mount Bruce Board chair Bob Francis says these iconic native birds are taonga.

“A lot of people have worked hard to reintroduce these rare native birds to allow them to flourish. It is our duty to make sure they do not get wiped out.”

Rat numbers have exploded in the Pukaha Forest over the past 12 months. Monitoring shows some areas rat numbers have reached 69 percent density – meaning 100 traps catch 69 rats over one night.

Rat numbers need to be at five percent or below for birds like kōkako to breed successfully. High rat numbers also attract ferrets, which are the main threat to kiwi in the Pukaha Forest.

Francis says the huge influx of rats has overwhelmed the network of traps in the forest and another method is required to get them under control.

To get on top of the rats the DOC will be using 1080 poison in Pukaha Forest.

DOC Operations Manager Kathy Houkamau says the aerial 1080 operation should reduce rat numbers in the reserve to near zero and help protect birdlife from predator attacks during their critical spring nesting time.

The operation is expected to begin from mid-October (after the school holidays), with a ‘pre-feed’ application of non-toxic bait occurring at least a week before the toxic bait is applied.

Timing of the operation relies on a period of fine weather, as 1080 poison is deactivated and made non-toxic by water, including rain.

Warning signs will be erected advising the public about the dangers if they come across the baits or predator carcasses.

Houkamau says that dogs are particularly susceptible to the poison.

“I would like to remind dog owners to take extra care until the warning signs are removed. Dogs are not allowed in the reserve, but people with dogs in areas adjoining the reserve need to keep their dogs under control to avoid contact with carcasses.”

The aerial operation does not affect the Pukaha Mount Bruce Visitor Centre which will remain fully operational during this time.

No 1080 will be aerially distributed on the 88 ha 'front facing' area where the visitor centre and associated tracks and facilities are located. The area the visitor facilities are in will be treated by bait stations only, as has occurred previously. All bait stations will be well away from the facilities and tracks in that area used by visitors. 


Phone: +64 4 496 1911
Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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