Wasp Wipeout gets approval from minister

MARION VAN DIJK/Stuff.co.nz

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry congratulates the community and the Nelson Mail on its Wasp Wipeout campaign at a celebration day at St Arnaud.

The hum of wasps is noticeably absent in the forest surrounding Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes.

The national park was one of the first places the wasp bait Vespex was trialled. Now, as part of the Wasp Wipeout campaign, actions to control the invasive predators will be carried out over more than 7000 hectares of public conservation land.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry helped Department of Conservation senior biodiversity ranger Nik Joice load a bait station with Vespex near the shores of Lake Rotoiti.

The Nelson Mail, DOC and the Tasman Environment Trust launched the campaign in December.

Barry said everyone had a story to tell about wasps, who were "unwanted eco invaders".

​"Last time I did the Abel Tasman walk I was stung so often I said to my companions; 'I am never coming back here again'."

Fairfax Media Nelson regional editor Victoria Guild, left, and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry prepare to apply wasp ...
MARION VAN DIJK

Fairfax Media Nelson regional editor Victoria Guild, left, and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry prepare to apply wasp bait Vespex on the shores of Lake Rotoiti.

Wasps cost the beekeeping, horticulture, farming and forestry industries about $130 million in lost production.

"I think we all share a passion for trying to rid ourselves of these pests."

"They really decimate our ecosystems and destroy the balance of our nature."

She congratulated the Nelson Mail on its Wasp Wipeout campaign and said the $55,000 raised was "tremendous".

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The extra funding had allowed DOC to expand its operations and deliver wasp control over 7000 hectares. 

"Which means that people who walk the walks and just want to be in nature in this part of New Zealand will now be able to do that without the fear of being stung."

She described the development of the bait, Vespex, by Nelson entymologist Richard Toft as a "game changer".

"The idea that it began here in Nelson, in this region and it spread out from there to the rest of New Zealand is something that I think you all should be locally proud of."

Toft who developed Vespex said there had been a lot of wasp control trialled in the Nelson Lakes National Park which had been a key site in its development. 

He said it had been a long journey to develop the bait which involved a lot of "brainpower".

"We've had this on the verge of being released for the best part of a decade."

The bait was most effective over larger areas where it could wipe out several nests. 

Nationally, Vespex had been well received and had been sent from the Far North to Stewart Island. 

Fairfax Media Nelson region editor Victoria Guild thanked those who had supported the project to get it off the ground. 

Guild said the region had some of the biggest wasp infestations in the country, the man who developed the bait lived locally and its community was conservation-minded.

"We thought, why don't we as a media organisation, with the reach we have, encourage everyone in the community to get involved in a conservation project."

It was hoped the project could be rolled out in other parts of the country.

"It just shows how if you work together in partnerships it can really make a difference."

 

 - Stuff

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