Farmers who attended a recent series of three meetings in Hawke’s Bay, arranged by Ospri to update them on the status of the TB control operation in the region, were told DNA-typing of the TB strain found affecting the region has been traced back to feral pigs on about 12,000ha of Tataraakina C Trust land.
That confirms that the spread of TB in Hawke’s Bay is coming via wildlife and not through movement of livestock.
Consent for Ospri to begin pest control on the Trust’s land in the area was signed off by one trustee but that has been challenged by at least one beneficial owner and an injunction has been placed in the Maori Land Court.
That means track cutting for ground control negotiated through consultation and planned for September has been delayed, subject to the court’s decision, along with an aerial 1080 drop.
Ospri extension manager Danny Templeman is hopeful a resolution can be found as soon as possible and aerial control in the area can begin to stop potential spread of the disease from the area.
Pig populations are not controlled under the TBfree programme – they don’t spread TB to livestock or other pigs – but possums are, and that is what the control programme would target.
There is a risk that hunters who kill infected pigs and then dump the unwanted remains in areas without TB could lead to possums scavenging on infected pig carcases, although Templeman says the risk of spreading the disease like that is considered very low.
At present there are 18 infected herds in Hawke’s Bay, with 15 of those already having one clear whole herd test.
Of those, at least half are expected to achieve confirmed clear status at their next test. That testing round runs from about now through to early February.
Ospri is inviting submissions on its TBfree possum control aerial operations for 2021.
Templeman says it’s the first phase of the consultation process and he encourages affected individuals and organisations to read the proposed plan, which is available on the Ospri website.
Submissions close on September 30.