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Waiheke Island 1500 Traps Closer To Being Predator-free

Waiheke Island is one step closer to becoming the world’s first predator-free urban island as Te Korowai O Waiheke: Towards a Predator Free Waiheke sets 1500 stoat traps across the island on February 24.

Waiheke Island is the second-largest remaining island in the Hauraki Gulf yet to be predator-free.

As we well as stoats, the eradication programme also targets other mustelids, including ferrets and weasels. It is the first phase of the Te Korowai O Waiheke’s project to rid the island of the mustelids and ultimately rats to ensure a thriving, healthy environment.

“So many people have dedicated so much time and energy to making this a reality. It is really exciting to be able to open the traps to give Waiheke’s wildlife the protection they deserve,” says Mary Frankham, Te Korowai o Waiheke Project Director.

Mustelids and rats threaten the native birds and other wildlife on the island. Among them, ground-nesting birds, like the oi (grey-faced petrel) and korora (little blue penguin), and hole-nesting birds, such as kaka, are particularly vulnerable.

The devastation of a single stoat on a vulnerable native species can be significant, and the Waiheke Island community report multiple stoat-sightings each week.

The community is very passionate about the programme, with many giving their time to it through volunteering in community groups controlling predators, helping to monitor bird populations on the e-bird app and hosting stoat traps on their properties.

The traps will be live until December 2021, followed by a two-year monitoring programme to confirm there are no stoats left.

About Te Korowai O Waiheke

Te Korowai o Waiheke: Towards Predator-Free Waiheke brings together community groups, local and central government and has secured substantial funding under the umbrella Trust organisation that aims to rid the island of mustelids and rats, to enhance the natural environment of Waiheke, and support the archipelago of pest-free islands.

The current programme is a five to seven-year duration, with the stoat eradication starting in 2019 followed by a rat eradication pilot project. The aim is to eventually eradicate rats from the whole island. Waiheke is already possum-free. Major funding has been provided by Auckland Council (including $2.85 million from the natural environment targeted fund), Predator Free 2050 Limited ($2.6 million) and Foundation North ($875,000). Other funds, current services and in-kind support is coming from community groups, existing DOC and Auckland Council programmes, and Waiheke landowners.

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