Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


DOC responds after possible rat sighting on Hauturu

DOC responds after possible rat sighting on Hauturu/Little Barrier Island

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has activated a response plan following a possible rat sighting on pest-free Hauturu/ Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

Hauturu is a pest-free nature reserve that’s home to around 40 species of rare or endangered native birds, plus wetapunga and native lizards. There are more than 400 types of native plants in the native forest that covers the island.

Rats are a major threat to native wildlife. They eat eggs and chicks of native birds. They eat native lizards and weta. And they eat seeds and flowers depriving native birds of food.

A DOC ranger looking under a shelter on Hauturu, late on Wednesday afternoon(Dec 6), saw something move that may have been a rat.

The shelter is 632 metres above sea level on a steep ridge. It takes five hours to walk to the hut, on tracks, from the DOC base on the island’s coast.

“The area under the shelter was very dark. The ranger caught a brief glimpse of something retreating into the darkness. His initial thought was that it could have been a rat or a robin, a bird that spends a lot of time on the ground eating insects,” says DOC Auckland Inner Islands Operations Manager Keith Gell.

The ranger checked a rodent tracking tunnel under the shelter. The tracking tunnel has an ink card to pick up track marks if a rat or mouse walks through the tunnel. There were no rat tracks on the card but the ink may have become too dry.

The ranger viewed the card with a magnifying glass and saw what he thinks may have been tiny hairs.

The ranger placed the ink card in an evidence bag. The ink card has been flown by helicopter to the mainland to be examined by DOC scientists.

“We need to know if there is, or isn’t, a rat on Hauturu. So, we’ve launched a response plan to determine if a rat has made it to the island,’’ says Keith Gell.

“This morning (Friday Dec 8) we flew a DOC ranger with a rodent detecting Conservation Dog to Hauturu by helicopter. They searched under and around the shelter and the surrounding area. No trace of a rat was detected by the Conservation Dog.”

“We’ve set up a network of devices at the shelter site to see if we can detect a rat,” says Keith Gell.

The network includes three motion sensor cameras, that can record images day and night. Tracking tunnels with fresh ink cards, chew cards that record a rat’s teeth marks and rat traps. The tracking tunnels, chew cards and traps are baited with peanut butter that is proven to attract rats.

“A ranger is staying in the shelter for the next week to monitor the cameras, tracking tunnels, chew cards and traps as part of our response plan to determine if there is or isn’t a rat on Hauturu,” says Keith Gell.

DOC works in partnership with Auckland Council to protect the pest-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf.

“We have biosecurity systems in place, to protect these pest-free sanctuaries because there’s an ever-present risk of a pest making it to one of these islands,” says Keith Gell.

“As part of our biosecurity systems, we’ve activated this plan to determine if there is or isn’t a rat on Hauturu,” says Keith Gell.

“Just over three weeks ago we activated a response plan after a possible mouse sighting on Tiritiri Matangi. We have found no trace of a mouse on Tiritiri Matangi and are looking at scaling back that response,” says Keith Gell.

Additional information

To protect the native wildlife and native forest on Hauturu, every visitor requires a permit from DOC and is subject to strict biosecurity measures. Hauturu is 21.4km from mainland Auckland.

DOC’s Conservation Dogs Programme is supported by Kiwibank


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>


BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>


Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>


State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>





Featured InfoPages