Nelson Nature’s aim to restore the natural biodiversity of the Maitai and Roding water reserves gets another boost soon with the annual animal pest operation being undertaken from 8-23 September.

Nelson City Council Group Manager Environmental Management Clare Barton says it is fitting that the programme is underway during Conservation Week, as reducing the pest populations of goats and deer helps to restore forest health in the largest intact forest ecosystem in the Nelson region.

“We do allow recreational hunters in these areas at other times, and while they assist with controlling the pest animal populations, more systematic control is needed to achieve a significant reduction. A browsing animal can quickly have a considerable impact on regenerating growth.”

The areas covered by the programme need special protection as they are home to threatened plants associated with the limestone geology in the area, and to other plants found only in the Dun Mountain Mineral Belt ecosystem.

Browsing in the undergrowth by deer and goats kills off important plant species, making the forest less diverse and therefore changing the habitat for wildlife.  For example, our local species of giant land snails rely upon the moist environment created by a lush understorey and are regarded by wild pigs as a tasty snack.

The control operation aims to reduce numbers to low levels over a long time-frame so the forest has a chance to recover.  More than 4,200 ha of the reserve will be covered.

Ms Barton said the initial programme in 2018 recorded approximately 180 deer and goats being removed during a similar period.  “The professional hunters are time and cost-effective, and very efficient, working across the land as well as via helicopter with infrared equipment.”

Track Closures

If you are planning biking or tramping trips into the Maitai and Roding catchments between 8-23 September (inclusive), please note that all tracks will be closed to allow contractors to carry out the pest animal hunting operations.

Warning signage is now in place at trail entrances to give advance notice of the closures.

Additional information is available on the Council website

Council apologises for any inconvenience and recommend people follow all signage and respect restrictions.