So we went in and nailed some rats and goats – but how many, where, and what difference did it make anyway?
Good information on how much effort goes in – and on what results come out – is vital to running safe, effective, value-for-money pest control operations.
As an information management officer/kaitiaki for DOC, one of my jobs is to help the guys and gals running the field operations by mapping all their hard won info.
As they say, a picture tells 1000 words, and that’s where GIS (Geographic Information Systems) comes in. Recently I’ve been involved in 1080 aerial rat control operations in both the Catlins and Dart Valley forests, home to the endangered mōhua/yellowhead.
Using GIS, combined with helicopter flight logging systems, we can build up a real-time picture of how the bait is being spread. This is important because we need to make sure that A. bait doesn’t get dropped outside the area we have consent for (i.e. it’s safe), and B. the whole area is covered evenly with no gaps (effective and value-for-money).
The beauty of downloading and mapping bait coverage on the day is that we can send pilots back out to fill in any holes on the spot – saving all the hassle and cost of rerunning the operation. It also gives us the ability to immediately deploy a clean-up crew to sensitive areas if boundaries have been compromised, reducing the risk to non-targets and the public.
Measuring predator abundance before and after – using ink cards that record paw traffic through ‘tracking tunnels’ – then gives us a measure of the poison’s effect on the rat population.
Helicopter GPS (Global Positioning System) logging is also important in other animal pest programmes, such as aerial goat control in the Wakatipu region. By using modern GIS mapping to combine GPS kill locations with the time-stamped helicopter flight logs, I can quickly measure how much result we are getting for how much effort in different control blocks. Field staff can then see how results stack up against operational targets, and decide on future priorities.