Wellington Scoop

Smothering, strangling, and killing – the threat from pest plants and animals

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
Smothering, strangling, displacing, infecting, browsing, killing. There are many ways pest plants and animals can undermine our biodiversity and primary production and, as a consequence, seriously threaten the health of our native and productive plants and animals.

Greater Wellington Regional Council’s proposed Regional Pest Management Plan, now out for public consultation, focuses squarely on protecting and enhancing the health and vitality of the region’s environment.

It charts how we can work together as a community to create sustainable regional biosecurity by eradicating, containing or controlling the pest plants and animals that compromise our environment.

“For our native plants and animals to thrive without threat we have to remain vigilant, take the most up-to-date approach to pest management and work with others to anticipate and manage the challenge posed by pest plants and animals,” says Greater Wellington General Manager, Biodiversity, Wayne O’Donnell.

The proposed plan outlines the framework for efficiently and effectively managing or eradicating specified organisms in the Wellington region.

“The plan will minimise the adverse environmental effects of pest plants and animals through co-ordinating activity which will exclude them from the region, reduce their number or contain and monitor them in particular locations,” says Mr O’Donnell.

The proposed plan will update its 10 year old predecessor and ensure it is consistent with the Government’s National Policy Direction for Pest Management. Once agreed it will remain in force for 20 years.

The proposed plan sits within a biosecurity framework supported by a number of complementary policies and plans, including Greater Wellington’s Biodiversity Strategy, the Key Native Ecosystem Programme and Wellington City Council’s “Our Nature Capital – Wellington’s biodiversity strategy and action plan 2015.”

“Biodiversity matters, it enriches our natural environment and our lives, but it isn’t a given. Restoring and sustaining our natural capital will take resources, effort and commitment. The proposed plan draws these factors together.”

The public is invited to provide its feedback on the proposed plan until 27 July. Copies of the plan and the submission form and process can be found at https://haveyoursay.gw.govt.nz/pestplan

What biosecurity techniques will be used?

The strategy proposes to control pests and organisms using the following approaches:

• Exclusion: to stop them getting into, or moving into, new parts of the region

• Eradication: to remove them over time

• Progressive containment: to reduce their number and spread over time

• Sustained control programme: to reduce their impact

• Site-led programme: to exclude or eradicate them to protect particularly valuable places.

What are we managing and how are we doing it?

Pest plants
Plant Management technique
Nassella tussock Exclusion
Chilean needle grass Exclusion
Alligator weed Exclusion
Moth plant Eradication
Senegal tea Eradication
Spartina Eradication
Velvetleaf Eradication
Woolly nightshade Eradication
Purple loosestrife Progressive containment
Banana passionfruit Site-led (Hutt City Council)
Cathedral bells Site-led (Hutt City Council)
Old man’s beard Site-led (Hutt City Council)
Boneseed Sustained control
Climbing spindleberry Sustained control
Eelgrass Sustained control
Pest animals
Animal Management technique
Wallaby (Bennett’s and dama) Exclusion
Rook Eradication
Mustelids (ferrets, stoats and weasels) Site-led
Pest cat Site-led
European hedgehog Site-led
Feral goat Site-led
Rat (Norway and Ship) Suite-led
Feral rabbit Sustained control
Magpie Sustained control
Wasp (common, paper and German) Sustained control
Possum Sustained control/site-led

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  1. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 5. July 2018, 15:27

    GWRC general manager (biodiversity) Wayne O’Donnell was one of the Local Government NZ representatives who participated in the National Cat Management Strategy Group (NCMSG), along with the likes of Morgan Foundation GM Geoff Simmons. NCMSG is a private organisation which advocates the mass execution of Cats. Their ‘strategic implementation consultation document’ may be downloaded here:
    See page 44 of this document for their recommended methods of executing Cats. See also page 52 where you may read about their “pervasive, intense and continuing campaign to ‘educate’ the public about the impacts of cats on wildlife and human health and the resulting need for culling”, something no one can deny has been occurring since at least 2013.

    In this Dominion Post report
    GWRC biosecurity manager Davor Bejakovich stated “‘pest Cats’ were classified as not microchipped in an area where microchipping was compulsory; free-living, unowned and unsocialised, and with little or no relationship with, or dependence on, humans”. He also stated “It’s very unlikely we will be trapping cats in the Wellington [urban] area but it would give us an ability around areas like Zealandia, to live-trap cats”.

    It is undeniable that Zealandia Sanctuary is surrounded by residential areas. Any ‘unowned’ Cat will be relying to some extent on human presence for sustenance, be that by raiding cat-flaps or compost etc. Under NZ law these Cats would be classified as ‘stray’ rather than ‘feral’. Many companion Cats will revert to instinctual mode and display feral behavior when trapped making it next to impossible to determine if a Cat has a microchip ID. Additionally, the failure and recall of some 15,000 Virbac microchips
    in January 2018 is proof enough that microchips are an uncertain method for identification of companion animals.

    ‘Pest Cat’ has no basis under New Zealand law. The correct definitions of the three types of Cats from a legal perspective is covered in the Ministry of Primary Industries Companion Cats – Animal Welfare (Companion Cats) Code of Welfare 2007.
    This is a code of welfare issued under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The Code places Cats under three categories: Companion, Stray, and Feral, it makes no mention of the arbitrary term ‘pest Cats’.

    Clearly the definition of ‘feral’ under the Code applies to truly wild Cats on larger conservation estates, not to the residential ares around Zealandia. Any Cats they trap there would technically classify as ‘stray’ or ‘companion’ and we have zero confidence in the ability of GWRC staff or their private partners to accurately determine if a Cat is a stray Cat or companion Cat. If GWRC goes with the arbitrary term ‘pest Cat’ they leave themselves open to legal challenge.

  2. Andy Mellon, 6. July 2018, 13:53

    We all know your preference for a monocultured fauna. Perhaps if irresponsible cat owners took a bit more responsibility for their pets, then feral cats wouldn’t have become a problem. Rather than complaining about the Council ad infinitum, perhaps an education or support campaign for cat owners might be a more positive action.

  3. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 7. July 2018, 15:46

    Hi Andy, thank you for joining this comments thread. For the record we like all of the critters on our patch and we have a fair selection of native wildlife which either resides here or visits regularly, so ‘preference for a monocultured fauna’ is an incorrect assumption.

    You make some good points with regard to irresponsible Cat ‘owners’, those folk bug the heck out of us as sure as they bug the heck out of the conservationists. After all, it’s folk like us who are engaging in rescue of abandoned Cats, having them desexed and vaccinated, socialised and getting them into good homes. When it comes to public education, we’ve engaged with Councillor Gilberd and staff at WCC in person to assist in production of their ‘Cat Fact Sheet’ and we’re constantly on the job educating the folk we meet on good Cat care. We think it would be great if council staff caught some folk in the process of dumping unwanted Cats and made an example of them in court. Up to $50,000 fine for anyone abandoning an animal, so if anyone is considering such action, just don’t.

    When it comes to GWRC’s real intentions, GWRC biosecurity manager Davor Bejakovich is on record advocating for the dedicated Cat poison PAPP in the form of a formal submission to the Environmental Protection Authority consultation on the proposed reduction of notification area from 3km to 500m for usage of PAPP. The GWRC submission may be downloaded here:


    PAPP does not distinguish between companion, stray or feral, like 1080 it kills indiscriminately. It takes around 45 minutes of suffering before a Cat is dispatched by this terrible poison. If PAPP is deployed in Wellington, everyone’s Cats including Cats with truly responsible guardians will be at risk, not to mention all of the other critters both indigenous and non-indigenous. Is it any wonder informed citizens are up in arms about all of this?

  4. Citizen Joe, 7. July 2018, 21:46

    Save the hedgehog! A creature that GWRC wants to exterminate with my (and your) money!

  5. Katy Mansfield., 7. July 2018, 22:16

    Surely this is all about GWRC staff justifying their existence. Without things to do they are extinct. Let nature take its course and so make GWRC staff get proper jobs. Bus drivers anyone?