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Annual protection of braided river birds underway


Annual protection of braided river birds underway

The eleventh year of a seasonal operation to help protect New Zealand's rare and endemic river birds begins in mid-September in Ashburton River with the co-operation of landowners.

Environment Canterbury’s control operation targeting animal predators, feral cats, mustelids and rodents in two sections of the Ashburton River/Hakatere will help the populations of wrybill, black fronted tern, black billed gull and others.

Environment Canterbury’s Southern Biosecurity Team Leader Brent Glentworth says while expectations of bird population recovery are high, operations are not a quick fix.

"It takes many years to allow breeding birds to boost numbers naturally and encourage other birds back into area where they have been largely absent. But bird survey results were encouraging."

Mr Glentworth says the work beginning in September is critical to ensure there are fewer predators on the ground when the birds are nesting in late spring/early summer.

“Unfortunately we can’t eradicate these predators totally or fund sustained control, but by helping to protect these birds when they are most vulnerable we hope to make a difference.

“While braided river birds are the primary focus for protection, all birds, invertebrates and lizards in the Ashburton Riverbed will benefit from the control work,” says Mr Glentworth.

The contractor engaged by Environment Canterbury Excell ltd, using local operator Mr Jock Quinn will focus on predator control within two sections of the river.

The lower Ashburton riverbed site of approximately 920 hectares runs downstream from the State Highway 1 Bridge to a point 9.5km down river. The upper site located at Hakatere on the south branch of the Ashburton River between blowing point and Buicks Bridge contains around 560 hectares in area and covers around 7.5km of river bed.

Signs will be placed at control locations advising the public of what is taking place, and people are reminded to keep dogs under control in these areas.


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