5 May 2014

Small-scale pest control still helps

6:33 am on 5 May 2014

A study of rat poisoning in small forest blocks has shown that pest control on a small-scale can still provide a huge boost to native bird populations.

North Island robin.

North Island robin. Photo: SUPPLIED

The six year study was carried out by Massey University researchers who analysed the effects of rat control in 19 blocks near Bennydale in the King Country.

It showed that small-scale control increased the number of North Island robins by 50 percent on average each year and also helped other species favoured by rats.

Massey Professor of Conservation Biology, Doug Armstrong described the results as magic.

He said farmers do a lot of small scale control with good intentions but never know whether it's achieving the desired result.

Professor Armstrong said most people don't have the skills or time to monitor the effects of rat poison but the research clearly shows it works.

North Island robins are vulnerable to predators as they predominantly feed on the ground, and their nests are easily accessible.

Researchers have speculated that the species has largely failed to adapt to urban environments probably because of a lack of behavioural defences against mammalian predators.