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Fiordland bats and birds on the increase

9 March 2018

Fiordland bats and birds on the increase

New Zealand’s two bat species and native birds are thriving after predator control work in Fiordland National Park, Department of Conservation monitoring this summer shows.

Numbers of the rare southern short-tailed bat in the Eglinton valley—its last remaining mainland stronghold—are on the rise with researchers counting a record 2947 bats flying from one roost tree this January.

Long-tailed bats are showing the same upward trend in this beech-clad valley, and mohua and kākā are also doing well, while elsewhere, whio/blue duck and pāteke/brown teal survival is up after recent operations to target rats, stoats and possums.

DOC Te Anau Operations Manager Greg Lind says the results show that DOC’s approach to controlling predators using a mix of sustained trapping and ground-based pesticides, and periodic aerial 1080, is working.

“All of the native species we’re monitoring are showing a positive response to predator control, which is just what we want to see.”

“Long-tailed bats were declining at a rate of 5% before we ramped up predator control in the Eglinton and our latest research shows they are now increasing at a rate of 8%,” says Greg Lind.

“Female kākā now outnumber males in the Eglinton—a sign that few are being preyed on the nest.”

Mohua have been returned to the valley after predators almost wiped them out following the beech mast in 2000. This year they produced more than twice the number of chicks compared to an area with no pest control.

Meanwhile, record numbers of whio/blue duck have also been seen during river surveys this summer in northern Fiordland with 46 whio pairs and 105 ducklings so far, surpassing the previous record of 80 ducklings.

Pāteke/brown teal have also benefitted from intensive predator control in the Arthur valley where 92% of birds released there last summer in partnership with Air New Zealand, have survived.

“We have significantly increased the extent of predator control in Fiordland National Park with the Battle for our Birds programme over the past few years and this is paying off for our native wildlife,” says Greg Lind.

“These results also reflect the support of our conservation partners and community groups that have run trap lines and got in behind these threatened species programmes.”


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