4 August 2011
TB testing requirements for Central Hawke ’s Bay reduced thanks to possum control
Farmers in a section of Central Hawke ’s Bay will now see a lot less of their bovine TB tester. As of the start of
March, more than 300 cattle herds and 26 deer herds in the Waipawa-Tikokino Special Testing Area (STA) will be testing
every three years instead of every two. This is a reduction in the number of livestock tests for about 6500 animals a
year across 70,000 hectares.
“Over the past five years, there has been no wildlife-related TB infection in livestock and no TB-infected wild animals
have been caught in the area over the past seven years,” says the Animal Health Board’s Southern North Island regional
coordinator Terry Hynes .
“Initially, some herds will be tested this year, with most other herd testing spread out evenly over the coming
This is a huge step forward for the area. Possum and other pest control in the area, which included trapping, ground
baiting and the use of aerial 1080 poison, began in 1992 and led to a rapid decline in the number of cattle and deer TB
reactors slaughtered, as well as a massive drop in infected herd numbers.
“When farmers in the Waipawa-Tikokino STA contemplated their futures 20 years ago, the situation looked much bleaker. In
1988, for example, a deer herd close to the Waipawa River contracted bovine TB, with more than 80 animals turning up a
positive TB skin test.”
Just three years later, TB was discovered in a cattle herd on the opposite side of the Waipawa River . A possum survey
in 1992 found four TB-infected possums close to the river resulting in 26,500ha of possum control under the Animal
Health Board (managed by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). This programme was carried out annually in the area until
2005, when the Council’s own PCA programme took over.
For more information the TBfree New Zealand programme and the work of the Animal Health Board, visit www.tbfree.org.nz