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New island sanctuaries great news for native birds

May 12, 2004 - Wellington

New island sanctuaries great news for native birds

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society welcomed today's announcement by Conservation Minister Chris Carter to create wildlife sanctuaries on two large Fiordland islands. The Government has agreed to fund a $7M pest eradication programme over eight years on Secretary and Resolution Islands.

"Ridding the islands of mice, deer and stoats will benefit birdlife and the islands' forests. The restored islands could become the jewels in the crown of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area," Forest and Bird's Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell said.

"This is the kind of bold initiative Forest and Bird wants to see the Department of Conservation doing and is great news for New Zealand's native birds. This project has international significance," he said.

"Many New Zealanders are worried by the killing of native birds by introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums. By ridding these two islands of introduced predators, birds like kakapo and mohua (yellow head) will have a 300 square kilometre safe haven," he said.

"The eradication of pests from islands as large as Secretary and Resolution brings hope that eventually, with community support, islands as large as Great Barrier and Stewart Island could be free of pests," he said.

"Long term, the challenge is to restore wildlife on the mainland, but restoring wildlife on Secretary and Resolution islands is a bold step along the way. These two islands will add to a list of important island sanctuaries including Little Barrier, Kapiti, Maud, Whenua Hou (Codfish) and our sub-Antarctic islands," he said.

"New Zealanders should be proud of the island pest eradication work carried out by the Department of Conservation because it is world leading," he said.

ENDS

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