Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Dog squad finds conservation islands clear of pests

Dog squad finds conservation islands clear of pests

Embargoed until: 11am,Tuesday 28 February, 2017

Two of Wellington’s predator-free islands have been combed by Conservation Dogs and given a clean bill of health by the Department of Conservation after biosecurity scares over the summer.

Mana Island, off the Porirua coast, and Matiu Somes Island in Wellington harbour are havens for rare wildlife such as tuatara and takahē, and have been free from rats, mice, cats, possums and stoats for decades.

DOC received reports – coincidentally, and within days of each other over the Christmas period – of a cat seen on Mana Island and a rat seen on Matiu Somes.

The Department’s response included deploying Conservation Dogs - specially trained pest detection dogs - to comb both islands, and they have not located any pests.

DOC’s Conservation Dogs programme – supported by Kiwibank – are a squad of canines specially trained to sniff out specific species. These dogs can be trained to detect a variety of pest species such as cats, rodents, stoats and even argentine ants.

The Department’s biodiversity supervisor for the Kapiti Wellington area, Colin Giddy, says sightings of any mammal on a predator-free island are taken very seriously.

“A single rat would be a disaster for any of our precious islands, especially if it were a pregnant female.

“One litter can produce 22 offspring and a pair of rats can multiply to 2000 in a single year, which is more than enough to overrun the island and decimate bird and lizard numbers.”

“A single cat would be notoriously hard to catch and could kill birds as large as takahē. Pest detection dogs are a great surveillance method to have in the tool box.”

The reports prompted DOC to immediately put emergency procedures in place to confirm or deny the presence of mammalian pests.

In addition to the pest detection dogs, tracking tunnels, traps and motion detection cameras were also put in place. As none of these tools have shown any indication of pest presence, both reports are thought to be a case of mistaken identity.

Colin says, “It’s the best result, and great to test our response protocols and keep us on our toes.”

Working together with Kiwibank allows DOC to unleash the potential of these incredible dogs. Conservation dogs are a highly effective tool for conservation and this partnership means DOC is able to make the programme more sustainable and better coordinated nationally.

Colin says, “Gary and his dog Abby patrolled Mana Island for several days. Abby is a cat tracking dog and the good news is she showed no interest which means it is very unlikely that a cat is present.”

“Leona and her dogs Bail and Chase scoured Matiu Somes Island for the reported rat, and again, the dogs found no trace. Monitoring has continued for the past few months but we are now pleased to confirm that both these islands continue to be safe sanctuaries for our native flora and fauna.”

Visitors to any of Wellington’s predator free islands are reminded to check their gear well to prevent any stow-a-ways.

Check your bags for animals including mice, rats, ants and lizards. Clean all soil and plant materials from your footwear and other gear, as they can carry disease and seeds.

Preventing pests getting to predator-free islands is one of DOC’s top priorities.

DOC would like the public to contact rangers on predator free islands immediately if they think they see rats, cats or anything else suspicious or dangerous to wildlife. It is far more cost effective to remove pests if they have just arrived than to remove an established population.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Statistics: Business Research And Development Up 29 Percent

Computer services and machinery manufacturing firms led the way in an almost 30 percent lift in business spending on research and development (R&D) in 2016, Stats NZ said today. Businesses spent $1.6 billion on R&D in 2016, up $356 million (29 percent) from 2014. More>>


China Shopping: NZ-China FTA Upgrade Agreed Among Slew Of New Deals

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and China Premier Li Keqiang signed off a series of cooperation deals spanning trade, customs, travel and climate change and confirmed commencement of official talks on an upgrade to the nine-year old free-trade agreement between the two countries. More>>


Media: TVNZ Flags Job Cuts To Arrest Profit Decline

Chief executive Kevin Kenrick said the changes were aimed at creating "a sustainable future video content business for TVNZ in an ever-changing media market." More>>


Reserve Bank: Wheeler Keeps OCR At 1.75%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate unchanged at 1.75 percent, as expected, and reiterated his view that the benchmark rate doesn't need shifting for the foreseeable future. More>>


Trade Plans: Prime Minister's Speech To International Business Forum

"The work to improve public services, build infrastructure, and solve social problems is possible only because we have enjoyed sustained, solid economic growth. A big reason for that is the Government’s consistent agenda of economic reform, and our determination to open up more opportunities for trade with the world." More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news