Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group - May Update
The Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group (OPBG) is off to a great start to the year. Their focus has been on targeting the tip of the Peninsula, deploying bait stations in known possum hotspots and monitoring possum distribution and abundance to inform operations. Volunteer and community input is vital in preparing the ground for the OPBG operations team, led by Operations Manager Bruce Kyle.
OPBG volunteers are currently working on maintaining the vast track networks, as well as helping with the monitoring of possum presence across the Peninsula. The OPBG is delighted to report that they have got the problematic possum breeding grounds in the vast DOC reserves on the Otago Peninsula (Sandymount, Sandfly Bay and Boulder Beach) under control. Monitoring in late 2018 demonstrated less than 1% RTC (residual trap catch). This is a great achievement, given that during 2017 some of these areas still had RTCs of more than 30%.
Ten known possum hotspots currently have possum densities of less than 2%RTC. A few previously cleared areas have received influx from possums that have been pushed out of their preferred habitat during the successful control operations. Possum populations that are being controlled are becoming considerably more mobile with surviving individuals choosing to leave and move into neighbouring habitat and corridors. This pattern of reinvasion of already cleared habitat following adjacent control operations is expected. Thus, monitoring the movements, location and abundance of possums will become increasingly important as the Group works towards possum eradication from the Otago Peninsula by 2023.
Male possums are currently dispersing, looking for mates and juvenile possums are leaving their birth territories, so OPBG are asking the Peninsula community to keep their eyes open for new invaders that might fancy a snack on much-loved fruit and nut trees. A new webpage www.predatorfreepeninsula.nz will include a ‘Report-a-Peninsula-Possum’ button to make reporting of the last Otago Peninsula possums easier.