News

Send Stoats back to Blighty?

They may be hated pests that love eating our cherished native birds, but pesky introduced stoats have just become a little more interesting to scientists overseas.

Just-published DNA comparisons have revealed that the stoats lurking in our wilderness include several genetic types that have long been lost from populations in their native Britain, prompting scientists to ask whether this diversity may even be worth bringing back home to Blighty.

Our stoats are descendants of those imported in the late 1800s to control rabbit numbers, which reached plague proportions after their introduction for food and sport.

Since then, stoats have been implicated in the extinction of bush wrens, laughing owls and the native thrush, and have been a major cause in the decline of kiwi, kokako, takahe, kaka and kakapo.

The Department of Conservation recently declared them "public enemy number one" for birds and the Government has poured millions of dollars into 1080 poison drops and research to control them.

However, new New Zealand-led research published in the journal Molecular Ecology has found that when the stoat population in Britain crashed, their expat relatives in this country conserved a reservoir of genetic diversity.

"History has demonstrated that even well-intentioned introductions of species to non-native habitats are almost always a bad idea," said Professor Robbie McDonald, of the University of Exeter.

"That said, as a result of a series of misguided introductions, we have accidentally created an 'invasive ark' for genetic diversity in New Zealand.

"It would be a fascinating long-term experiment to return native genotypes back to Britain from New Zealand and see whether it re-established among its ancestors."

Fellow author Dr Andrew Veale, formerly at the University of Auckland, said that while invasive, non-native species were a global cause of biodiversity loss, "our results show that sometimes these introduced populations may paradoxically conserve diversity lost from their native range - and potentially this diversity may be worth protecting".

Auckland University co-author Professor Mick Clout said the discovery that they had a higher genetic diversity here than back in their homeland was "intriguing". But that did not mean New Zealand stoats had any value or were worth protecting.

"If the Brits wanted to have them, then fine, but we are not going to compromise our control because of genetic diversity."

- NZ Herald

 
 

Pest wasps are costing New Zealand's economy $130 million a year.

Pest wasps are costing New Zealand's economy $130 million a year, a new study says.

The impact of the introduced pests included wasp-related traffic incidents, costing $1.4 million a year, and more than $1 million in health costs from wasp stings.

But the greatest impact was on farming, beekeeping, horticulture and forestry, the study said.

More information......

 
 

Nothing Funny About Easter Bunny

Great spotted kiwi chick and Easter Egg. Photo Willowbank Wildlife Reserve webIt's part of Easter every year but it's not cute or cuddly nor is it a friend of farmers. The NZ Biosecurity Institute says it's a costly example of the effects of introduced plants and pests and it's high time the Easter Bunny was replaced.
Institute President, Rebecca Kemp said her members think it would be appropriate to find a heroic icon for Easter rather than the rabbit along with its villainous history in New Zealand.
The NZ Biosecurity Institute is the professional training and networking organisation for people involved in biosecurity. Its 450 members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils and government departments.
All are involved in protecting NZ from invasive species.
Ms Kemp reckons it's high time the kiwi flew at Easter.
"The symbols around Easter have come from many historic and cultural origins, so why not put our own slant on Easter?" she said.
"The obvious choice would be the kiwi. It lays one of the largest eggs of any animal in the world, which is entirely appropriate for Easter".
Rebecca-KempMs Kemp said equally significant is that it is endangered because of the effects of introduced predators.
"We're not trying to replace the Easter Bunny with an Easter Kiwi, but to give the commercial side of Easter a more New Zealand emphasis, and in so doing, help raise awareness of all pests, both plant and animal."
Every year the Biosecurity Institute's members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment of the effects of introduced pests.
"This is work which costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars each year through control, research and border control budgets. This money is coming out of all New Zealanders' pockets," she said.
The idea of replacing the Easter Bunny is not new.
In Canterbury, Institute members have in the past promoted a competition at Easter asking people to suggest a more appropriate icon to replace the Easter Bunny. Easter Kiwi was usually the frontrunner.
New Zealand is not alone in the call.
Australia has run similar promotions resulting in their Easter Bilby which has caught on to various degrees.
"Like the Kiwi, the Bilby is endangered so what better Easter icon," Ms Kemp said.
NZBI members in the course of their work have been involved in other creative ways of promoting their animal and plant pest management work.
The call to replace the Easter Bunny is one of many animal and plant pest awareness programmes carried out over the years.
Previously at the annual MacKenzie Highland Show bar-b-qued rabbit sausages (hot rabbits rather than hot dogs) and bunny burgers have been an alternative approach to highlighting the rabbit scourge that infests Canterbury.
In Northland, event snacks made from pests as a way of raising awareness of this issue have included wasp larvae ice-cream, as well as possum and goat meat pies, crackers topped with possum pate, wild rabbit sausages and breakfast sausages flavoured with spicy native plants.
Chocolate kiwiAll are friendly ways to promote the more serious side of Institute members' work.
"It is very hard to get the message across that although these look like cute cuddly creatures they are not welcome here".
Ms Kemp said an animal or plant is a pest because of where it is, not what it is.
The rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) introduced into New Zealand illegally in 1997 is still having some effect on keeping rabbit numbers down, but Ms Kemp said Canterbury and Otago members are reporting 70 per cent of rabbits now being immune to it, so it is no longer the major player it was.
Ms Kemp said It is timely that Institute members from local and government authorities, and research organisations have recently been involved managing the discovery of a pest which must never be allowed to establish here - the Queensland fruit fly.
By Chris Macann,

 
   

Brown Dog Ticks in Canterbury

 

An MPI operation has been underway in response to the discovery of an exotic/introduced tick in two pet dogs in the Selwyn District of Canterbury in January 2015. We are contacting pest control companies as we are very keen to hear if they have had to treat any tick infestations in the last 4 (or so) months in the Selwyn or greater Christchurch area.

 

The tick found is called the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and is present in many countries, but has not previously established in New Zealand. The ticks have been found here on rare occasions in the past and have been successfully eradicated each time. With regards to the Canterbury situation, the two dogs concerned have been treated with a tick treatment and confined to their house. No further ticks have been found at any location. Tick treatment of the properties the dogs have visited has been conducted as an extra precaution. MPI is now working to find out whether there are any other tick populations present in the Canterbury area. The Ministry is carrying out a range of tracing and surveillance activities, including asking dog owners and related enterprises to look out for these ticks.

 

These ticks can feed on a variety of mammals but they are most commonly found on dogs. They are not a pest of production animals. The brown dog tick can cause skin irritation in dogs where large numbers are present. It can infest houses and kennels. More significantly, the tick can carry and spread a range of blood-borne diseases that can affect both animals and humans. It is important to note, however, that these diseases are not actually present in New Zealand so the risk of disease spread remains very low. The Ministry of Health advises that any human health risk resulting from these ticks is very low.

 

We do not know how the brown dog ticks could have entered New Zealand. The dogs concerned are not imported and have lived in New Zealand all their lives. They have not had any known contact with imported dogs. There are a number of ways the ticks could have arrived, including on travellers, in luggage or clothing, or with imported goods, including animals. MPI has strict importing requirements for animals including dogs. Dogs must have been treated prior to export, must be inspected by a veterinarian prior to shipment and on arrival, and dogs from most countries are quarantined here before release.

 

 

 

Full information about the brown dog tick is on the MPI site: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/brown-dog-tick

 

Further to this you can find the MPI Fact Sheet on the Brown Dog tick here.

 

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you feel would have an interest in this.

 

 

 

The important message is:

 

If you live in Canterbury and believe you have seen brown dog ticks on a dog, please phone MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

 

If you live elsewhere in New Zealand and believe you have seen brown dog ticks on a dog, please contact a veterinarian.

 

Note: New Zealand has a number of species of ticks established here, so it is very likely that any ticks present (particularly if you live in the North Island) will not be the brown dog tick. However your vet will be able to help determine if the ticks are of concern.

 

 

 

 

MPI operation which has been underway in response to the discovery of an exotic/introduced tick in two pet dogs in the Selwyn District of Canterbury in January 2015. We are contacting pest control companies as we are very keen to hear if you have had to treat any tick infestations in the last 4 (or so) months in the Selwyn or greater Christchurch area.

The tick found is called the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and is present in many countries, but has not previously established in New Zealand. The ticks have been found here on rare occasions in the past and have been successfully eradicated each time. With regards to the Canterbury situation, the two dogs concerned have been treated with a tick treatment and confined to their house. No further ticks have been found at any location. Tick treatment of the properties the dogs have visited has been conducted as an extra precaution. MPI is now working to find out whether there are any other tick populations present in the Canterbury area. The Ministry is carrying out a range of tracing and surveillance activities, including asking dog owners and related enterprises to look out for these ticks.

These ticks can feed on a variety of mammals but they are most commonly found on dogs. They are not a pest of production animals. The brown dog tick can cause skin irritation in dogs where large numbers are present. It can infest houses and kennels. More significantly, the tick can carry and spread a range of blood-borne diseases that can affect both animals and humans. It is important to note, however, that these diseases are not actually present in New Zealand so the risk of disease spread remains very low. The Ministry of Health advises that any human health risk resulting from these ticks is very low.

We do not know how the brown dog ticks could have entered New Zealand. The dogs concerned are not imported and have lived in New Zealand all their lives. They have not had any known contact with imported dogs. There are a number of ways the ticks could have arrived, including on travellers, in luggage or clothing, or with imported goods, including animals. MPI has strict importing requirements for animals including dogs. Dogs must have been treated prior to export, must be inspected by a veterinarian prior to shipment and on arrival, and dogs from most countries are quarantined here before release.

 

Full information about the brown dog tick is on the MPI site: www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests/brown-dog-tick

Further to this, I have attached the MPI Fact Sheet on the Brown Dog tick for you.

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you feel would have an interest in this.

 

The important message is:

If you live in Canterbury and believe you have seen brown dog ticks on a dog, please phone MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

If you live elsewhere in New Zealand and believe you have seen brown dog ticks on a dog, please contact a veterinarian.

Note: New Zealand has a number of species of ticks established here, so it is very likely that any ticks present (particularly if you live in the North Island) will not be the brown dog tick. However your vet will be able to help determine if the ticks are of concern.

 
 

Brown Dog Ticks Found on Canterbury Dogs

A foreign blood-sucking pest has been found on two dogs in Canterbury.The dogs had a small number of brown dog ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) and have been treated and quarantined at home.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response principal adviser Andre van Halderen said the ministry was unsure how the dogs got the ticks as they were born in New Zealand, had never left the country and apparently had not come into contact with imported animals.

The ministry was taking "swift action" to find out how the dogs could have picked up the ticks and whether there was a wider population in the area.

More information.....

 
   

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