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Chadwick announces important restoration project

Chadwick announces important restoration project

A 19th century conservationist will soon have his dream realised when work starts on the removal of all stoats from Resolution Island in Fiordland National Park, Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick said today.

“One hundred years after Richard Henry, New Zealand’s first conservation officer, left Resolution Island, the Department of Conservation (DOC) is laying 2500 traps, in a bid to fulfil the wildlife ranger’s vision,” Steve Chadwick said.

“With stoat eradication on Secretary Island nearing completion, this provides two substantial life-rafts for Fiordland’s threatened species to establish healthy populations.”

In 2004 the Labour-led government announced $7 million to restore Secretary and Resolution islands in Fiordland, two of New Zealand’s largest off-shore islands.

The massive eradication programme – a key step in the restoration of Resolution Island, will start in July following positioning of the traps.

Stoat eradication from an island this size will provide protection to many species vulnerable to introduced predators. Based on previous experience of island eradications, it is anticipated that the vast majority of stoats will be removed within the first few weeks of trapping.

“This is another significant step in helping to ensure the survival of New Zealand’s precious and unique birds. People will soon be able to enjoy the islands as they once were, before the arrival of stoats.

“Richard Henry led the way for us – these island eradication programmes are modern examples of the conservation work he pioneered.”

Background information:

Resolution Island is the fifth largest island in New Zealand – including South Island, North Island and Stewart Island at 20,860ha.

Resolution Island was set aside as a flora and fauna reserve in the early 1890s - New Zealand's first such reserve.

Richard Henry became New Zealand's first 'wildlife ranger' when he was appointed caretaker and curator to the island in 1894.

Henry was aware of the impact of introduced predators such as stoats. He set about transferring flightless birds from the mainland to Resolution Island. Unfortunately, historic records show Henry's attempts to establish populations were unsuccessful at that time due to the arrival of stoats on the island.

Last year 13 bivvies were located on the island ready for on-the-ground work to begin. A team of contractors spent the summer establishing the 230km of track necessary for the stoat trapping programme.

Some species that are vulnerable to introduced predators, such as whio/blue duck, cannot be protected in predator-free habitat elsewhere, due to their need of large areas.

There are no possums or rats on Resolution Island. Only deer and stoats are targeted for removal.


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