Funding Boost for Predator Free Dunedin

February 1, 2022 3:48 pm

Predator Free Dunedin has secured a funding boost of more than $7 million dollars, allowing it to expand and accelerate predator control and ensure long-term protection for native wildlife in some of Dunedin’s most treasured conservation areas.

Predator Free 2050 Limited has committed $3.91 million in additional funding as part of the government’s Jobs for Nature Mahi mō te Taiao programme along with new support from Wenita Forest Products and its parent New Forests, City Forests and the AAW Jones Trust.

“Since Predator Free Dunedin started in 2018, we have removed 45,000 predators from 30,000 hectares of Dunedin’s urban and rural landscapes. This new funding will see possum and mustelid control expanded to include another 37,500 hectares — doubling our current operational area” explains Rhys Millar, Project Lead for Predator Free Dunedin.

Possum control will be extended to include an additional 33,000 hectares west of State Highway 1, including important conservation areas such as Silver Peaks, Silverstream and Mount Allan. It builds on OSPRI’s targeted possum control programme, which has seen more than 20,000 possums removed from the existing project area. Permanent trap networks will be placed in areas treated by OSPRI, providing long-term protection for forests and native wildlife by keeping possum numbers as low as possible.

Possums will also be the focus across more than 10,000 hectares in West Harbour and Mount Cargill where they will be controlled to “zero density”. This is one step from eradication and will see possum numbers at such a low level they are unable to reproduce.

In the city, residents in coastal and western suburbs will be supported to do predator control in their backyards, with a focus on removing possums. This will support the current goal to eradicate possums from Otago Peninsula by 2023 and support the goal of zero possums in West Harbour and Mount Cargill.

Once possums are successfully eradicated from the Otago Peninsula, Predator Free Dunedin and the Otago Penisula Biodiversity Group will target mustelids (stoat, ferrets and weasels) with the goal of eradicating stoats by 2025. This will be the first attempt to eradicate stoats from a large, populated mainland area and an important milestone for New Zealand’s Predator Free movement.

Photo by Tomas Sobek.

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