Animal Pest Control

Horizons believes managing pest animals is vital to help protect agricultural and horticultural production, and native biodiversity in our region.

The protection of agricultural production values continues to be the focus. In addition to possums, the management of introduced predators like cats and ferrets, and browsers like goats and deer, is needed to safeguard the biological diversity of our region. These species are wide-spread and their management presents the challenge of doing too little in too many places.

Under the Biosecurity Act, Horizons produces and implements a Regional Pest Management Plan. Our role under the Plan is to prevent the incursion of new animal pests and sufficiently manage those already established.

View the Regional Pest Management Plan 2017-37.

Possum Control Programme

Horizons are a major player in the game of possum control in the region, working not only to improve the region’s biodiversity but also to protect property value and farm production by managing possums on farmland and other private property.
Possums are incredibly destructive to our native environment and production. It’s estimated that 14-15 possums can eat the same amount of grass as one sheep. They can also be carriers of bovine tuberculosis. Initiated in 2006, Horizons’ possum control programme aims to bring all rateable land under sustainable possum control, this is approximately 1.6 million hectares.
Horizons’ current possum control programme came about in 2006 as OSPRI (formerly known as TBFree NZ) began to scale back its operations in areas where it had been successful in reducing bovine tuberculosis. Horizons’ work complements possum control on Crown land carried out by the Department of Conservation and OSPRI work to control bovine tuberculosis.

TB Vector Control

You may know possums destroy native habitats in our region and threaten wildlife – but did you know they are also a major TB vector? A TB vector is a wild animal that transmits Bovine tuberculosis (TB) to farmed animals. This infectious disease is one of New Zealand’s most serious animal health problems, which puts access to beef and venison export markets at risk.

OSPRI has been conducting TB possum control operations for several years in our region. The results have been a successful reduction in TB, as indicated by the number of infected cattle and deer herds. Some areas are now testing clear of the disease, showing a large reduction in the possum population.

Our aim is to continue reducing possum numbers to the point where we are satisfied we have eradicated TB in the wildlife. We will conduct surveys of the wildlife to prove this – wild pigs as well as possums are a good indicator.

A spin-off from our TB work is that many of the region’s native habitats and wildlife are protected from the pesky possum.

For more information about OSPRI's pest control work in our region, check out their website here.