Trail-cam footage before and after a 1080 operation

Department of Conservation —  21/12/2017 — 17 Comments

Technology has revolutionised the way we (as humans) keep record of our daily lives.  Photos and video are now the perpetual wall paper in the background of our lives.  Wildlife haven’t quite caught the selfie bug (or have they…), but the sneaky placement of video cameras in the middle of NZ’s wilderness can tell us a lot about the future of our wildlife. This was true for pest control monitoring in the Blue Mountains, West Otago.

Reducing the numbers of rats, stoats and possums was key to protecting endangered mohua and other native wildlife in the blue mountains area. This could be done through aerial 1080 pest control operations, but we wanted to know how effective this method was. So in 2014, scientists from DOC and Lincoln University set out to video the species living in the Blue Mountains before and after a Battle for our Birds aerial 1080 operation.

Tim Sjoberg_setting up camera

Setting up a camera aimed at one of the trapping tunnels

Hidden on the forest floor near trapping tunnels, 26 motion sensing, infrared cameras were placed to record the presence of pests, deer and birds. The cameras ran for a number of weeks before, during and after the pest control operations. When wildlife came into the range of the camera, a 30 second video was captured.

R120021 Herb Christophers_1080 monitoring results_graph_all2.jpg

Graph showing the number of animals captured on camera before and after the 1080 operation

   The 1080 drop took place at week 14 and monitoring continued for a further 5 ½ weeks.

   For any bird species, we calculated their abundance in the 28 days before the poison operation and in the 28 days following the 1080 operation.

Dr Elaine Murphy was pleased at what the video captured. The footage reinforced the current value of aerial 1080 pest control for protecting our threatened species (especially the mohua) at large scale.

“It’s amazing what activity can be recorded on a camera that we don’t pick up using conventional tracking tunnels. Stoats and rats were regularly recorded on cameras but rats were almost always alone. Stoats visited regularly and were twice recorded in family groups of up to 6 animals.”

So what did this tell us?

We were amazed at how clear the monitoring results were – our usual method (of monitoring tracking tunnels) tells the same story but not quite so precisely.

In total 4792 videos of animals were recorded including huge flocks of finches (hundreds!) feeding on beech seeds. The stats showed no evidence of reduced bird numbers in the 4-weeks after the aerial 1080 operation.  The mohua counts before the aerial 1080 operation suggested a decline in mohua numbers from the year before. By contrast, the count after the aerial 1080 operation was the highest since counts began in 2007.

482-064R.jpg

Mohua with lunch. Photo: Leon Berard

After the aerial 1080 drop, the number of cameras recording stoats, rats, mice and hedgehogs was significantly lower.  No stoats or rats were recorded the day after the operation or within the 38 days after the operation when the camera trial ended.

For the hunters, the good news was the apparent negligible impact of 1080 baits on the susceptible fallow deer population. That’s the deer repellent at work!


 As New Zealand makes progress toward the ultimate goal of becoming predator free by 2050 and powerful field cameras become readily available, there will be more camera analysis possible. Rather than the demise of pests, those cameras will be recording growing native bird populations thriving in our forests.

17 responses to Trail-cam footage before and after a 1080 operation

  1. 
    Trevor FitzJohn 19/01/2018 at 12:18 pm

    Excellent graphics to explain how and why and a summary of the great results. I look forward to the journal paper. Thankyou.

  2. 
    Don Fletcher 22/12/2017 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for making the effort to inform us.

  3. 
    Wynston Cooper 21/12/2017 at 6:28 pm

    There are several FRI reports that clearly show that fallow deer have a significant detrimental impact on the vegetation in the Blue Mountains. This is also supported by the exclosure plots on Cattle Spur where the plots are full of palatable species all but absent outside them.

  4. 

    All well and true having a nice animation of what happened. but where is the actual videos and locations of where the cameras were inside the pest control area. otherwise this just looks like an emperor’s new clothes scenario that we are meant to just believe.

    • 

      Nobody’s forcing you to “believe”, Quintin.

      This post explains the type of method used to monitor these things systematically and objectively, both before and after to clearly measure the change (if any) around a point in time when a specific event (1080 drop) happens.

      Nobody requires you to trust DOC researchers who do this stuff and then explain the results, but if your preconceived views are so strong that you’ll write off carefully measured evidence on the grounds of it being a huge conspiracy where results have been faked by conspiring employees of a government agency, then chances are *everything* DOC could possibly give you will be written off as corrupt propaganda.

      • 

        I’d like more than just a media presentation that any school kid doing media at school can whip up. especially since they are using a highly toxic poison that was originally developed as an insecticide and using against manufacturers recommendations for use.

    • 

      Its a blog not a research paper, from your comment you would not believe any locations on a map anyway.

    • 

      Hi Quintin,
      This study will be submitted to a science journal in the new year with more details and a map of where the cameras were.

      With regards to your comment on it being used against manufacturers recommendations, the label on the concentrated 1080 stock that arrives in New Zealand is done to comply with American requirements. Once the material is in New Zealand, it needs to comply with New Zealand regulations. The Environmental Protection Authority does a risk analysis of 1080 and set stringent conditions for its use in New Zealand. 1080 is manufactured into cereal pellets by Animal Control Products and undergoes further scrutiny by the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines group in the Ministry for Primary Industries to ensure that it complies with relevant requirements for use as a registered vertebrate toxin.

      • 
        Christa van Loon 22/12/2017 at 9:27 am

        I would hardly call aerially dispersing a toxin “stringent conditions”. I would love to see the complete paper, with the data extending to the full 38 days. Aerial drops of 1080 stops this product complying with Orillion’s requirements as well. Keep out of waterways and remove poisoned carcasses.

      • 

        After which it is dumped indiscriminately in waterways against manufacturers recommendations and warnings on the product. itself.

  5. 
    Jennifer Falconder 21/12/2017 at 8:33 am

    Wonderful. Are the fallow deer no longer considered a threat to our forests and birds?

    • 

      Yes, the deer do damage the forests. The hunting community value them as a resource so deer repellent is added to the bait. This is a good compromise, hunting pressure keeps deer damage to an acceptable limit while the poisoning operation removes most of the other threat species.

      • 

        Peter is right, all deer are a potential threat to forest regeneration because they eat seedlings, but they are not treated as pests.
        Recreational hunting keeps fallow deer populations in check and where possible, we uses deer repellent to reduce the by-kill of a valued recreational hunting resource.

      • 

        I don’t think people realise the damage herbivores do to our flora. Recreational hunting being adequate control on deer, tahr, chamois hares and goats is a myth from recreational hunting lobbies. Doc I hope is not giving up on the flora, it’s great to see the effect of 1080 for birds, but serious work needs to go on mammalian herbivore control as well.

    • 

      I hope you are aware that we now have Herds of National Significance…lf not, please read up on it.
      http://www.doc.govt.nz/about-us/statutory-and-advisory-bodies/game-animal-council/role/

      In addition, your concerns have also been raised by the PCE
      http://www.pce.parliament.nz/media/1402/game-animal-council-submission.pdf

      This means DoC is not really allowed to do anything to them… Whether they like that or not is a different thing. Don’t forget, their official response has to be in line with the ministers/Director general focus for the organisation rather than information/comment trolling by some commenters, so be mindful when you try and criticise people, they may not have the choice to reply openly.

  6. 

    Great stuff. Knowledge is king.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Our stories of 2017 « Conservation blog - December 30, 2017

    […] Waitutu Forest since pest control started just over a decade ago. We also recently released video monitoring results from the West Otago Blue Mountains, showing significant bird survival […]

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