Kapiti residents can expect fewer possums and more native birdlife as Greater Wellington Regional Council's possum control programme begins on the Kapiti Coast this year.
Regional Council chair Fran Wilde says wider possum control on the Kapiti Coast will improve the health of native bush and birds and the wider environment as a whole.
"Few people will argue that possums are not a pest. They ravage native forests and eat the eggs and chicks of native birds. They are just as happy stripping fruit trees, vegetable gardens and ornamental plants.
"There is no doubt the environment is more healthy and productive when possums are controlled to low numbers."
Kapiti Coast District Council mayor Jenny Rowan said the project fitted well with the aspirations of community groups who had been working hard to protect and enhance native forest remnants on the Kapiti Coast.
"More effort going into this area can only be good for our environment and communities," says Mayor Rowan.
Chair Wilde says the project will cover as much land as possible to get the best knock-down of possums and the most benefit for Kapiti District and residents. Much of the work will be in rural areas, but there will be work on reserve land and natural areas in and around the towns.
Possum control programmes are already well established throughout the Hutt Valley, Wellington City, Otaki and Wairarapa.
"People in those areas have been delighted with the way native bush and birds have flourished with low possum numbers," says Chair Wilde.
There are a number of small native forest remnants on the Kapiti Coast which already receive possum control by Regional Council, Department of Conservation or volunteers. This is a larger project covering some 20,000 hectares, which will support these smaller areas by reducing the number of possum that re-invade them.
Mayor Rowan says the Kapiti Coast is well placed to reap benefits of sitting between two native biodiversity gems in Kapiti Island and the Tararua Forest Park.
"This is a great opportunity to complement the work being done by DOC on Kapiti Island and in adjacent areas of the Tararua Forest Park as part of Project Kaka.
Regional council staff will be visiting landowners to get their approval before any work begins.
The possum control project was proposed and supported in the regional council's long term plan 2012-22.
Staff will be using brodifacoum poison from bait stations. Brodifacoum is an anti-coagulant poison that is available from retail chains and farm merchandise stores (under various trade names) and can be used by the public without a license.
Regional council staff are experienced in controlling possums safely around stock, pets and children.
Information signs will be put in place to advise the public of any risk.