The Changing Landscape of Urban Pest Management - Elite Pest Control Ltd

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The Changing Landscape of Urban Pest Management

Article by Dawn Hendrikse

Dawn Hendrikse

Executive Assistant to the Managing Director, Elite Pest Control Limited

For those of us in the field practicing Urban Pest Management daily, it is about peace of mind, protecting assets, and reducing fear and anxiety. The fear factor is what motivates our clients to call us.

Most of our revenue comes from summer pest activity and it is a challenge keeping up. We look forward to the Christmas and New Year break. We eagerly await the winter season and gear up to monitor and control rodent populations in urban/residential environments.

During my preparation for University this year, I discovered some research on Urban Pest Management. “Invasive Urban Mammalian Predators: Distribution and Multi-Scale Habitat Selection”. The research basically formalises the information we have been collecting in our service reports for the last two decades.

Miller, K.F.; Wilson, D.J.; Hartley, S.; Innes, J.G.; Fitzgerald, N.B.; Miller, P.; van Heezik, Y. Invasive Urban Mammalian Predators: Distribution and Multi-Scale Habitat Selection. Biology 2022,11,1527. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/biology11101527

The study focused on three rodent species, brush-tail possums, and European hedgehogs. As rodent detections were lowest in residential gardens, it suggested control programs should focus mostly on forest and amenity park habitats. That was ‘interesting’ because we installed over 500 rodent management programs into residential properties between 1 April and 31 August 2022.

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The primary motivation for the research was “ecological restoration that enhances the benefits backyard gardens have to city-wide biodiversity and public health”  

This is a new concept for Urban Pest Managers in New Zealand and hopefully one we learn more about and adopt.

Thanks to the Predator-Free 2050 initiative, large sums of money are being invested into smart predator control ideas, technology research and innovative non toxic methodology and techniques. Predator-Free is designed to eradicate pest species in New Zealand on a large scale.

The new techniques focus on nontoxic pest management and artificial intelligence, thermal and trail camera monitoring and expensive but efficient wireless alert systems. The new technology takes the labour out of predator projects which saves thousands of dollars.

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This research and technology development can be useful against the Urban Predator Invasion. While one residential home isn’t much, 2500 residential homes equates to a large area. This technology can help our fight.

Our Urban Pest Management Industry has a unique opportunity to learn about new ‘whys’ and new ‘hows’ and it is exciting to be entering University with this in mind. It is also a little concerning.

As a spin-off from Predator Free 2050, the Government created the Jobs for Nature Fund in 2020 in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The intention is to tackle pandemic-driven regional unemployment and the declining health of New Zealand’s waterways and landscapes.

The following press release is one example of how this funding is being used:

Ōtautahi and Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū Pest Control

Christchurch City Council will receive $1.575 million for animal pest and weed control work in parks, mahinga kai sites, and wetlands across Otautahi/Christchurch, Te Pataka o Rakaihautu/Banks Peninsula and the Port Hills.  The project will employ 10 people for three years. The Council intends to bring unemployed people into the workforce and offer placements for those interested in getting experience and skills in pest control. Training will be provided to set them up for a career in conservation

A significant portion of our revenue comes from rodent management in the residential, parks and reserves environment. Possum management is consistently growing in our urban market and we had a significant increase of mustelid inquiries from Canterbury residents in 2022.

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“The conclusion of the study encourages 1. the need for widespread and coordinated control operations to support initiatives aimed at restoring native biodiversity and 2. the presence of predators requires the engagement of residents so that these (urban) habitats do not support populations acting as sources of re-invasion into other green spaces”

Will our Urban Pest Management Industry be part of the coordinated operation? We hope so! Our industry has spent years developing solutions that deliver the highest quality results in the most humane way possible. It has collectively built up a strong rapport with the residential market who trust our recommendations and advice.

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We have developed monitoring programs into our services so we can control invasions in real time and encourage annual inspections of current programs to ensure they are performing and delivering expected results.

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The concept of human well being, saving ecological biodiversity and contributing to urban restoration projects can become a priority during our day to day field work.

This alternative motivation will encourage us to expand on our knowledge and help us take action.

Our industry is in a prime position to deliver this research to the people that matter. To those that can contribute towards best results in our urban environment. The local community is desperate to be part of the fight to restore nature, to be trained and taught the most effective solutions to save our unique biodiversity.

#epickiwi #pestcontrolprofessionals #gardencity

If you liked this article the credit goes to the following people and institutions carrying out this fantastic research – share it to your networks so our colleagues get a chance to read and share their own opinions and experiences:

Invasive Urban Mammalian Predators: Distribution and Multi-Scale Habitat Selection

Kim F. Miller 1 , Deborah J. Wilson 2 , Stephen Hartley 3 , John G. Innes 4, Neil B. Fitzgerald 4 , Poppy Miller 5 and Yolanda van Heezik 1,*

1. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

2. Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

3. Centre for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, P.O. Box 600, Wellington 6140, New Zealand

4. Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand

5. Plant & Food Research, 23 Batchelar Road, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand

* Correspondence: yolanda.vanheezik@otago.ac.nz