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Whio conservation success on Mt Taranaki

Hon Maggie Barry
Minister of Conservation

26 February 2016

Whio conservation success on Mt Taranaki

The reintroduction of whio/blue duck to Mt Taranaki has been a major success story for New Zealand’s native animals, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

Ms Barry helped release six captive-reared whio near the North Egmont Visitor Centre this afternoon as part of the ongoing reestablishment project.

“Whio were extinct on Mt Taranaki by the 1940s due to predation by stoats, ferrets and other mammals,” Ms Barry says. “There’s now a thriving population of at least 33 pairs on monitored rivers and so far this breeding season 29 new ducklings have been seen.”

Whio are a notoriously difficult bird to protect, due to their habitat preference for fast flowing mountain rivers.

Since the late 1990s, DOC has worked to re-establish them on Taranaki supported by the Central North Island Blue Duck Trust and the department’s Whio Forever partnership with Genesis Energy.

Birds reared in captivity were released into the park, with the first wild-born ducklings hatched in 2005, two years after predator trapping began.

The captive-reared birds released today will hopefully begin breeding themselves, adding to the natural increase in the population.

“Whio Forever is a superb example of DOC partnering with business,” Ms Barry says. “The five-year programme has enabled DOC to double the amount of secure breeding sites for whio and boost pest control to protect them.”

A 7500 hectare predator control zone covered by more than 1100 traps now protects the whio population on Mt Taranaki.

“Without stoat trapping, it would be impossible for whio to breed on Mt Taranaki,” Ms Barry says.

“We must continue to fight back against the predators who threaten our native wildlife – the success of the Taranaki whio project proves once pests are gone natives can thrive and get on with doing what nature intended.”


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