Long Hot Summer Encourages Predators
A long hot summer, providing favourable breeding conditions for predators nationwide, is believed to be the prime cause for the number of ferrets found in the Pukaha Mt Bruce reserve.
This invasion in April unfortunately caused the first recorded kiwi deaths through predator attacks in the Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi programme at Pukaha since the project began in 2002.
A review of predator control in the forest was undertaken by the Department of Conservation with its restoration partners Greater Wellington Regional Council and Horizons Regional Council, who manage pest control in private land adjacent to the forest.
The trapping layout was analysed by DOC national predator advisor Darren Peters who commended the team on having the “tightest kiwi protection in the country”.
“Even with the best of efforts it’s always going to be difficult to control ferrets in an unfenced reserve” says Darren.
DOC area manager Chris Lester is pleased with the cooperation displayed by the partners and is confident about the future success of the project despite this recent setback.
“The deaths have affected our staff and everyone involved in saving the kiwi. However, we have to learn from these events and we will do as much as we can to prevent any future reoccurrences.”
Chris believes that the regional councils have delivered 100 percent on their agreement and this has been a good time to stop and review the techniques.
“As good as the trapping is the team has agreed that we need to continuously improve our systems and communication” says Chris.
Further kiwi releases were scheduled but had been placed on hold while the review of the site was undertaken. DOC is now looking forward to releasing kiwi in late May to ensure the restoration continues.
The Pukaha Mt Bruce restoration project to return the dawn chorus to the forest started in 2002. There are currently 16 kiwi in the forest as well as approximately 35-40 kokako and other native birds. A new walking track is currently being constructed so that visitors to the centre have the opportunity to experience the reintroduced native wildlife in an unfenced forest environment.
For more information about Pukaha Mt Bruce go to: http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/PlaceProfile.aspx?id=34978 or http://www.mtbruce.org.nz/
DOC media liaison: Amanda
Cosgrove on 06 377 0723
DOC national kiwi information: Avi Holzapfel phone 07 858 0019
Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust: Michelle Impey, ph: 09 375 1084 or 029 478 4610
Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust was established in November 2002 by Bank of New Zealand and the Department of Conservation, building on a sponsorship relationship that started in 1991. Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust is responsible for public awareness and education, fundraising, sponsorship and grant allocations for kiwi recovery nationally. In 2007 alone, $760,000 was allocated to community and DOC kiwi projects. This money came from Bank of New Zealand, its staff, customers and supporters of Bank of New Zealand Save the Kiwi Trust.
Bank of New Zealand Operation Nest Egg™ is a powerful tool to reverse the decline of key kiwi populations. Eggs and chicks are harvested from nests to save them from stoats and cats. The young kiwi are returned to the wild when they weight about 1kg, big enough to fight off these predators. More than 800 kiwi chicks have been returned to the wild since the programme began in 1994, with captive facilities and hundreds of field workers from DOC and community groups throughout the country contributing to its success. The Bank of New Zealand Operation Nest Egg™ egg harvesting>chick rearing>return to the wild technique was developed through research funded solely by Bank of New Zealand and is now also used in other species recovery programmes.