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Keen To Advance Lake Pearson Wildlife Refuge

MEDIA RELEASE

13 JUNE 1999

Minister Keen To Advance Lake Pearson Wildlife Refuge

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is keen to progress proposals for a new wildlife refuge at Lake Pearson following a visit today.

"Lake Pearson is not only stunningly beautiful but is also an important habitat for many birds. I am particularly concerned about the welfare of the southern crested grebe, an endangered species for whom Lake Pearson is the most important breeding site. The proposal to make the Lake a wildlife refuge has real merit."

Southern crested grebe numbers world-wide have fallen to less than three thousand. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature have classified the grebe as vulnerable to extinction, and have launched a global action plan to save it. The New Zealand population of southern crested grebe is about 250 birds of which 75% reside in Canterbury.

"The greatest threat to the survival of the grebe is power boats. Grebe and Tigershark Jetskis don't mix. The wake of powerboats and jetskis swamp the nests and the noise scares nesting birds away from their eggs, leaving them vulnerable to predation and overheating."

Attempts have been made to reduce the impact of powerboats by erecting signs restricting speed, but these have been unsuccessful. Lake Pearson is very small and, given the proximity of other larger lakes available for power boats, it has been suggested that usage should be restricted to unmotorised craft.

"Lake Pearson is one of Canterbury's most beautiful mountain lakes and deserves proper protection. I have instructed the Department to take the wildlife refuge idea to the next stage, and seek public submissions on the proposal."

ENDS

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