If you haven’t heard, about 700kg of brodifacoum laced bait being ferried by helicopter to Indian Island in Dusky Sound for a rat eradication programme was lost over Anchor Island on Thursday. A ground search indicated that the load landed in a lake on the island.
While 700kg seems like a lot, there was only 0.2% of poison per kg of bait. A large bird like a kakapo would have to eat about 20 pellets to get a toxic dose – even though they’re greedy buggers this is highly unlikely!
As a precaution, two kakapo in the area were moved to a nearby island and are being looked after by the Kakapo Recovery Team. These guys are top notch staff who are passionate and dedicated to kakapo. The birds could not be in better hands right now.
The cause of the incident is not yet known. It was a routine aerial eradication operation using a helicopter company with an impeccable safety record.
An investigation has been launched and we’re trying to work out what went wrong.
What happens now?
The baiting operation has been postponed until all inquiries are complete.
There is no evidence of any impact on land, only in the lake. DOC is taking advice on the best way to deal with this. Water sampling is underway to assess any impact on the lake environment. The bait was largely insoluble and will break down slowly.
Aerial drops of this nature are needed because of the devastating impact introduced mammals like rats have on native birds.