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151% More Duck

A recent analysis has shown the number of whio (blue duck) pairs across security sites where the birds’ population restoration work is underway have increased by 151% since 2011.

There are now 748 pairs of whio in security sites across New Zealand, up from 298 pairs found across the eight national security sites in 2011 when the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Genesis started working together to restore important populations of whio on awa across New Zealand.

Mark Davies, DOC’s Western South Island Operations Director and a member of the Whio Forever management committee says: “Even this year, with a drama-filled season of severe flooding which can wipe out nests on river beds and margins, a mega beech mast season and predator control delays due to Covid-19, the population has grown by 23 pairs.

“Whio nest in less than ideal places – under log jams and boulders, and at ground level, which makes them easy hunting for stoats, so this result is very fulfilling to everyone who has worked to restore whio populations.”

Nigel Clark, Executive General Manager Wholesale Operations for Genesis says it takes a community to raise a whio. “This incredible result is driven not only by the partnership between DOC and Genesis, but also through the hard work of many individual trapping enthusiasts, privately run trusts and businesses that hold whio breeding pairs, hatch whio eggs and raise their chicks.”

There are eight security sites across New Zealand where whio populations are managed intensively with predator control and breeding assistance programmes. These sights span from Te Urewera in the North Island to Fiordland in the South. You can find out more about the various places where whio are managed at https://www.whioforever.co.nz/about .

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