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DOC’s plan for kiwi sanctuary ‘inexplicable’

DOC’s plan for kiwi sanctuary ‘inexplicable’

Forest and Bird is warning that Department of Conservation plans to continue trapping but not undertake aerial 1080 control in the Okarito Sanctuary may be disastrous for forest birds and invertebrates.

The Department of Conservation is planning a combination of stoat trapping and Operation Nest Egg to protect the Okarito brown kiwi/rowi from expected high stoat numbers in the Okarito Sanctuary during the coming breeding season.

“DoC’s thinking is inexplicable. If stoat trapping is the only pest control carried out in Okarito Sanctuary when rat numbers are high, rat numbers are likely to go through the roof. That would be a disaster for smaller forest birds like fantails and robins,” Forest and Bird’s Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey said.

“Evidence from stoat trapping in kiwi sanctuaries suggests that stoat trapping alone can result in increased rat populations as there are fewer stoats to eat the rats. DOC should be controlling stoats and rats together. The most cost effective way to do this is with aerial 1080, followed by bait stations for rats,” he said.

“Last year stoat trapping was a failure. Stoats overwhelmed DOC’s trapping programme in the Sanctuary. This year is unlikely to be different,” he said.

“Forest and Bird has previously urged DOC to seek a change to their resource consents to allow 1080 poison to be used to control rats and stoats. DOC needs to control both rats and stoats in the South Okarito Sanctuary,” he said.

“While Operation Nest Egg is a good way of protecting a few individual Okarito brown kiwi/rowi, it will do nothing for the rest of the forest,” he said.

“Following knock-down with aerial 1080, bait stations with rodenticide would be a cost effective way to control rats throughout the breeding season,” he said.

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