Date: 29 May 2017
Source: Waikato Conservation Board
The Waikato Conservation Board is concerned that vandalising of pest control operations in the Pureora Forest Park south of Te Kuiti could result in volunteer workers becoming lost or injured in remote native bush.
At its meeting in Hamilton on 24 May 2017 the Board discussed the impact of ongoing vandalism to bait stations and trap line markers in the 1000-hectare Okahukura Block being managed for pest control by volunteers from the Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society.
Board chair Mark Brough of Aria says the society's voluntary efforts have been impeded by several incidents over the past two years, firstly by removal of some 25 bait stations and then by removal of pink tagging tape. The tape is designed to assist volunteers in refilling their bait lines and to help inexperienced workers remain aware of their location in the dense native forest.
"The Board is distressed to hear of such on-going vandalism against the work of volunteers in this remote region. In many cases the bait stations have been removed and rediscovered later, hidden or thrown some distance from the track.
"Bundles of marker tape have been found stuffed into trees and other hiding places, much to the dismay of voluntary workers."
Mark Brough says the Okahukura pest control is helping protect the endangered North Island kōkako, which is becoming re-established in North Island podocarp forests thanks to the sustained efforts of voluntary groups such as the Pirongia Society.
"All this work is very time consuming for our volunteers who travel considerable distances to undertake their work and the thoughtless actions of a few intent on impeding their efforts results in a great waste of precious resources."
Ohahukura is part of the popular North Pureora destination for deer and pig hunters, as well as trampers and mountain bikers using the recreational opportunities available.
"The Pureora forests are available for all park users seeking good times in the bush and the efforts of our volunteers to enhance the forest values and biodiversity must be applauded and supported," Mark Brough said.