Northlanders are taking to the region's pest plants and animals around their properties during Covid-19 lockdown.

"It's very encouraging for pest control in Northland and for the biodiversity and primary production for the region," Jack Craw, Northland Regional Council councillor and biosecurity and biodiversity working party chair said.

Craw said people were doing more pest control on their properties as they suddenly had more time to attend to it through the lockdown.

"People often do pest control work as an addition to the many other things going on in their life," Craw said.

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Lockdown now gave more opportunity to devote to pest control.
"It's a great time to do the pest control things that need doing," Craw said.

Keeping on top of pest weeds and animals was a great insurance into the future.
"Now is a great time to be doing pest control around your property. Go for gold," NRC's biosecurity manager, Don McKenzie said.

He said it was also a good time for Northlanders to keep an eye out for new or unusual pests.

The NRC website's pest hub was a great place for identifying any of these that might come
to light.

McKenzie is one of three NRC biosecurity specialists who have special authority to operate as an essential service under lockdown rules.

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Possums and pest plants on private properties in Northland still need to be dealt to during the lockdown.
Possums and pest plants on private properties in Northland still need to be dealt to during the lockdown.

Biosecurity is an essential service only in the case where a pest that was new to New Zealand turned up. Councils would then support a Government-led response.

The arrival of a pest into Northland that was already found in other parts of New Zealand, would be dealt with on a case by case basis.

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He said as a result of lockdown none of NRC's 27 biosecurity staff were working out in the field carrying out their work as they usually did, and were office-based, offering pest control support to communities.

McKenzie said pest control was taking place around the region, building on NRC's established approach of supporting people in their efforts.

"A number of our communities are well tooled up," McKenzie said.

High value areas such as Mangawhai, Tutukaka, Whangārei Heads and the Mid North already had very good pest control.

"Private landowners can do a lot to keep the battle going," McKenzie said.

Possums, stoats, feral cats and rats were among major pest culprits being targeted.

Northlanders' ongoing lockdown pest control efforts in their own backyards, small blocks and farms would bring positive benefit.

Weed control work could also continue as was the case with great work being done with wild ginger on properties such as at Whangārei Heads.

"In these lockdowns we can't get out together in our usual community groups, but weed control can still be done individually on our private properties and is extremely valuable," McKenzie said.

Craw said Northlanders needed to be the eyes and ears of the region when it came to Northland's pest control mission.

Northlanders should report any sightings of wallabies, rainbow lorikeets, bearded dragons, red slider turtles and ring necked parakeets to the council's environmental hotline.

McKenzie said the lockdown was good news in the fight against kauri dieback. There would be fewer people walking in and using areas where kauri dieback was or could potentially be a problem, therefore reducing the risk of its spread.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website