Introduced mammals have a huge impact on the park’s native inhabitants, predating birds, eggs and other species like native snails, and destroying healthy natural habitat.
Mt Taranaki is unusual as it has no deer, chamois, feral stock or pigs meaning the only ungulate, (hooved animal) found in the national park is the goat.
A goat eradication team has been working in the park for over 90 years (the longest running goat team in the world) and it is estimated there are currently around 1,500 – 2,500 feral goats still in existence.
Goats cause damage by eating native plants and by trampling large areas of vegetation and compactable soils. They continue to modify the understorey of the forest through browsing, bark biting and trampling.
Taranaki Mounga aims to eradicate all goats by 2023 making this New Zealand’s first ungulate free national park.
The Australian brush tailed possum was introduced into New Zealand in 1837 to establish a fur trade. With abundant vegetation for food and no natural predators it thrived.
In Taranaki possums have affected canopy tree species, leading to the death of large areas of trees through defoliation. They damage native forests by eating new growth so many plants fail to regenerate under possum attack.
Possums also eat bird eggs and chicks and large invertebrates such as the giant Powelliphanta land snails. They also compete with native birds for habitat and for food such as insects and berries.
Taranaki Mounga plan to undertake ground and aerial poison operations targeting possums in the national park.
Stoats are agile climbers and hunt any time, day or night. They are the major cause of the decline, or disappearance, of birds like kaka and kakariki.
Stoats feed on rodents, birds, rabbits, hares, possums and insects (particularly weta). Lizards, freshwater crayfish, carrion, birds, eggs, hedgehogs and fish are also taken.
DOC already has an 11,000 ha network of stoat traps in the national park and Taranaki Mounga will add another 320 traps over 2,000 ha in the winter of 2016.
Rats eat native animals and their eggs, and a wide range of native fruit and plants, which puts them in competition with native wildlife for food.
They are good climbers and prey on small birds, chicks and their eggs, like fantails/piwakawaka, bellbirds and rifleman. Rats also target insects and native snails as well as other insects and the flowers, fruits and seeds of plants.
When food is plentiful rats can produce up to 10 offspring every eight weeks. During winter 2016 ground and aerial possum and rat control will be undertaken in the national park. This will give our native birds every chance during the next breeding season.