Department of Conservation: Native Bat Predator Control ‘thriving’

Department of Conservation: Native Bat Predator Control ‘thriving’

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Department of Conservation’s native Bat populations is ‘thriving’ at sites in Fiordland and the Central North Island because of predator control methods.

Accordingly long and short-tailed bats were common in New Zealand, but they have since almost disappeared from many areas due to habitat loss. Department of Conservation also says that rats, possums, stoats, and feral cats are eating them. 

“Close monitoring of bats over many years in the Eglinton valley near Te Anau and Pureora Forest Park west of Lake Taupō has shown a significant upswing in populations of short-tailed bats due to predator control,” says DOC Principal Science Advisor Colin O’Donnell.

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“Short-tailed bats in the Eglinton valley have done really well since predator control began in the late1990s with the population increasing on average by 8% per year. At Pureora, where we’ve tracked short-tailed bats for the past eight years, predator control has allowed the population to grow by 10% annually.”

Long-tailed bats are susceptible to rat predation, which required low rat populations over larger areas for them to thrive and live healthily to survive.

For 25 years Colin O’Donnell has monitored the long-tailed bat populations, seeing it turn around from a decline of 5% to increasing at 4% per year. Long-tailed bats can fly for up to 20km a night, which gives them a greater risk of random predator attacks.

During warmer periods, typically summer, mixed podocarp and hardwood forest at Pureora predators tend to be higher. Toxins in bait stations are used to protect bats over 900 ha.

Predator control operations are timed when they are raising their young in maternity roosts. There are plans to do additional controlling methods at Waipapa, which is nearby.

Department of Conservation controls predators in the Eglinton valley using sustained trapping, ground-based toxins, and aerial 1080 poisoning over larger areas to prevent plagues as rat and stoat numbers in the beech forest-clad spike after each beech mast (meaning seeding).

Image: Department of Conservation/Colin O’Donnell (Governtment.dept)

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