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Check your gear, keep our islands pest clear

25 January 2013

Check your gear, keep our islands pest clear


The Department of Conservation is appealing to people visiting islands in Wellington Harbour and Kapiti Coast this summer to do their bit to help keep them free of introduced pests.

David Moss, DOC Biodiversity Ranger said the most common way pests such as rodents can get to islands is by stowing away on boats.

“Rats or mice can devastate an island’s wildlife and have the potential to breed rapidly. It has been estimated that under ideal conditions, a source population of rats could produce 15,000 offspring in one year."

Mr Moss said making sure that rats and mice are not on board when people head out for a day on the water is the most important thing. If the boat is small then a quick scan is generally sufficient. However, with bigger vessels it is sensible to maintain rodent bait stations or traps on board.

“By taking this simple step, fishers and boat owners can make all the difference in keeping pests off our precious off shore islands,” he said.

It is also important to check boats, packs, clothing and boots for insects and weed seeds before going ashore, and to leave pets behind, including dogs, as they are not permitted on conservation islands. Private boats and kayaks cannot visit Kapiti Island and boats can only land in one place on both Mana and Matiu-Somes Islands. Travellers on commercial boats also need to check their gear.

Some of the most popular visitor destinations in the region, Matiu-Somes and Kapiti Islands are free of pests. These islands provide a safe haven for many of our rarest and most endangered animals such as kiwi, takahe, tuatara, giant weta, hihi (stitchbird) and tieke (saddleback).

“At the end of the day it is up to all of us to ensure we don’t transport unwanted pests to an island,” he said.
Checklist:
• Always check your boat for animal pests before leaving port if you are going to be landing on an offshore island.
• Always check the gear that is to go ashore for any animals that may be hiding amongst it.
• Set rat and mouse traps, or lay poison baits, on board boats.
• Do not leave food lying on board when in port, as animals attracted to your boat may stay on board and become stowaways. Place food in rodent proof containers like chillybins.
• Please ensure no plants or seeds are introduced onto these islands, as some are free of many weeds which are common on the mainland. Check cuffs and socks for seeds and burrs and remove mud from soles of shoes.

• Be aware when visiting islands and look out for any pests. Inform the DOC Island Ranger or call the DOC Hotline: 0800 362468.

ENDS


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