15 Aug 2013

Pest-free Otago Peninsula

From Our Changing World, 9:06 pm on 15 August 2013

Looking across Otago Peninsula from Sandymount (image: A. Ballance)

Otago Peninsula from Sandymount, with Hooper's Inlet at the right (image: A. Ballance)

Brendon Cross and Rik Wilson setting a possum poison bait stationThe idea of a predator-free New Zealand has been gaining traction over the last year or so, but one group is already three years into an ambitious six-year programme to remove possums from Otago Peninsula, on the outskirts of Dunedin. The peninsula covers 9500 hectares, and to date more than 6,000 possums have been killed.

Alison Ballance joins Brendon Cross, a sixth generation peninsula farmer and chair of the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Trust, and pest-free peninsula project manager Rik Wilson (both pictured at left) to find out how they are going about the eradication using contractors and ground-based trapping and poison. Because of the peninsula’s geography they have been able to carry out the eradication in different stages, controlling them in one sector before moving onto the next sector. The neighbouring suburbs of Waverley and Shiel Hill will become a buffer zone to prevent possums reinvading.