OSPRI is getting Hawke’s Bay back on track to a TBfree future after delivering multiple aerial operations in the past six months.
OSPRI’s Disease Control GM Simon Andrew says that it is essential to reduce the possum population in these problem areas to a low level and to maintain this long enough to break the disease cycle. “We’ve seen this before in other areas – where we’ve had as much as a 98% reduction in possum populations. Once we have targeted the source of infection, we fully expect the number of infected herds to fall over time.”
Between the months of August and October, OSPRI completed operations covering about 30,000 hectares of difficult-to-reach and challenging terrain, which included:
10,000ha in Waipunga, near the Napier Taupō Road. This operation was an urgent priority for OSPRI and Hawke’s Bay farmers as TB is known to be prevalent in local wildlife.
Another critical operation in Waikoau, covered 10,000ha of private, forestry and public conservation land.
In Willowflat the aerial operation covered 7,500ha. The operational boundary is within three kms of Waipunga and forms a broader protective TB buffer to the Urewara.
Poronui-Ripia was also completed and covers an area of 3,592ha.
In total 355,000 hectares have been controlled in the Hawkes Bay since the start of the TB outbreak response.
OSPRI is continuing to implement control work while also planning for further operations next year and into the future. This work will also contribute to the broader goal of eradicating TB from cattle and deer herds by 2026.
“Over the last 15 months, we have been working hard to build and strengthen our relationships with local landowners and we are now in a better position to engage with the community. Our case management approach to infected herds has been updated and we have improved our regular communication with farmers. We have also held several farmer meetings during the year to keep locals up to date with our response plans,” Mr Andrew said.
OSPRI has committed $20 million over the next five years to eradicate TB from cattle and deer herds through possum control in Hawke’s Bay. This includes treating the areas that are sources of infection.
“Our possum control work will not only allow the bush to regenerate and enhance biodiversity throughout Hawke’s Bay, but it will also contribute to protecting an important source of kai for hunters and the local community.” Mr Andrew said.