Case study - Rats out, birds in at Tarawera
At the start of the new millennium, rats were so abundant at Lake Tarawera they ran freely through properties at all hours of the day and night and the native bird populations were suffering.
Residents initiated the Lake Tarawera Rat Control Programme with support and funding from locals, the Regional Council and the Department of Conservation. The programme is focused on restoring native birdlife by controlling rodents on 471 properties and two high value ecological sites.
More than a decade of rodent control has led to a greater abundance and diversity of bird life at Lake Tarawera. Independent contractors have carried out two bird counts - the first in 2005 and another in 2008. In 2005, only 16 different bird species were observed and a total of 472 birds were counted. By 2008, 897 birds were counted from 29 different species. Half of those counted in 2008 were native species, and tui, kereru, grey warbler and shining cuckoo numbers showed the greatest increase.
The programme continues today through volunteer effort and innovation. Funding for bait is supplied through the Regional Council’s Biodiversity Management Programme and landowners purchase the bait stations for use on their properties.