Changing Possum Control in Hawke’s Bay

Closed 31 July 2022

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is undertaking a review of the Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP 2019) to include proposed changes to the way that possum control is managed.

About the consultation

Hawke's Bay Regional Council is undertaking a review of the Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP 2019) to include proposed changes to the way that Possum Control Areas (PCA) are managed. We propose to transition the current PCA programme from land occupier responsibility to the use of contractors instead. This proposal is only about possum control, all other pest management programmes are unaffected while this proposal is being considered.

Why are we consulting?

The current land occupier responsibility model for possum control is harder to manage than using contractors. There are many more occupiers potentially doing control on their own properties than the number of contractors it would take to control possums effectively at a landscape scale.

One 3,000 hectare PCA in Hawke’s Bay has 133 properties, while the average per PCA is about 50 properties. To ensure that control is done in the right way at the right time, large numbers of small properties introduce considerable uncertainty into the system. There are about 4,300 properties in the current PCA programme. Monitoring the performance of each property is a daunting prospect if each does their own possum control. Three to five contractors could cover 400,000 hectares, dramatically reducing performance monitoring costs. For most landowners, possum control is just one of many jobs to be done on a property. Even with the best of intentions, some owners will do possum control haphazardly or not at all. Contractors will be more singularly focused on meeting their performance targets to get paid. This does not reflect badly on farmers. It simply acknowledges the reality for anyone whose primary business is not possum control.

The Regional Council estimates that 70% of current PCA properties do their own possum control. However, Council analysis also suggests that about 50% of those occupiers are likely doing little or no control. Internal analysis by HBRC staff in 2016 looked at the total volume of toxin recorded as part of the subsidy scheme. Staff then took a conservative approach to calculate how much bait would theoretically be applied by landowners doing control themselves.

For the 2015-16 financial year, 247,615 hectares was nominally under control by occupiers. However, only about 31,000 ha would have been covered with the bait sourced through the subsidy scheme, suggesting that 216,000 ha went uncontrolled, or 54% of the total PCA sample area. These figures are supported by reports from HBRC staff and contractors, who note significant anecdotal evidence of landowners not undertaking regular possum control.

Changes to possum control in Hawke's Bay? Watch here.

Have your say

Submissions closed at 8pm on Sunday, 31 July 2022.

Key dates

Consultation opens - 1 July 2022

Consultation closes - 31 July 2022

Hearings - 17 August 2022

Deliberations - 18 August 2022

Decision made - 28 September 2022

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