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Thursday marks the start of the largest pest control operation in New Zealand’s history.

“Battle for our Birds 2016 will protect our most vulnerable native species from the potentially disastrous proliferation of rats and stoats in our forests.  This comes as a result of a massive forest seed drop, or mast,” Barbara Kuriger said.

“There are 19 confirmed pest control operations so far, covering more than 720,000 hectares. One of these operations is Mount Taranaki,” Kuriger said.

 “The operations involve aerial 1080 drops. Biodegradable 1080 remains the safest, most efficient and effective method of pest control in the rugged backcountry of New Zealand,” Jonathan Young said.

“Expanded trapping networks, including newly operational self-resetting traps, will back up the operations.

“This work is vital to save priority species from local extinction.  It won’t just sustain our native bird populations, it will see populations increase and improvements in the native ecosystem.

“Budget 2016 invested $20.7 million into this fight to protect New Zealand’s most iconic natives, such as the Kiwi, the Whio, the Kea, and the Kākā,” Young said.

“The last mast year response, Battle for our Birds 2014, saw significant benefits for native birds. For the Mohua in the Dart and Routeburn valleys, it on average doubled the number of chicks after the operation, compared to areas where 1080 wasn’t used.

“We have a responsibility to protect our precious wildlife and help it flourish.  These campaigns are an important part of that work,” Kuriger said.

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