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Wednesday, 3 February 2010, 11:52 am
Press Release: Department of Conservation


Rodent Detected On ‘Pest-Free’ Kiwi Crèche Island

A large Norway rat discovered in a permanent trap on the ‘pest-free’ island of Motuora in the Hauraki Gulf has sparked a Department of Conservation (DOC) response operation. Motuora, which is jointly managed by DOC and the Motuora Restoration Society and is home to young kiwi chicks and other threatened species, has never had a population of mammalian predators such as rats, stoats or ferrets.

The rat was found yesterday during a regular check, caught in one of the sentry stations designed to detect and trap any invading pests. Based on the level of decay, it is estimated the animal had been dead at least a fortnight. A similar invasion in February 2008 ended with a single rat being caught after several weeks of effort.

The main concern now is the risk that other rodents may be present, prompting DOC staff and volunteers to widen the trapping programme with a large number of extra traps placed over the island. This afternoon a rodent detection dog will be deployed, a tool that has proved effective in the past.

Full press release on scoop.co.nz

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December 3, 2009


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Kakariki breeding on Motutapu for first time in 100 years

They’ve been gone for more than 100 years, but last week, a family of red-crowned parakeets was spotted flying down from the trees in a peaceful gully on Motutapu.

Luis Ortiz-Catedral, parakeet specialist and Massey University PhD student, says one of the birds was clearly a recently fledged juvenile that must have hatched on the island.

“I estimate it fledged about two weeks ago considering the size of the tail, the colouration of the beak and also because it was still being fed by its parents,” he says.

Red-crowned parakeets — one of five main species of kakariki — were recorded on Motutapu in September by the Ornithological Society of New Zealand (OSNZ). The OSNZ conducts bird surveys for the Motutapu Restoration Trust every year. Mr Ortiz-Catedral joined them last week to look for signs of breeding parakeets.

Only the male of the pair was banded, and had been released on nearby pest-free Motuihe eight months ago.

Motutapu and Rangitoto are on their way to becoming pest-free after the Department of Conservation began a two-year campaign to rid the islands of seven remaining mammalian pests in June this year.

Full story on scoop

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nature-topper

NZ Nature on screen

To celebrate NZ’s unique natural taonga, Peter Hayden has curated a highlights collection from three decades of NHNZ productions. Aotearoa’s landforms and its magnificent menagerie of natural oddities – birds, insects, trees like nowhere else on the planet – are showcased in 15 award-winning titles. From Discovery Channel and David Bellamy, to Wild South and Our World classics.

Read More ›

http://www.nzonscreen.com/collection/nature

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Park aims to attract native birds to city life – Environment – NZ Herald News
Allan Parker says volunteers are raising money to build fences at  the regional park.

Melodic bellbirds, bright green kakariki and cheeky kaka could be popping into city slickers’ backyards if a mainland bird sanctuary succeeds north of Auckland.

The native birds are expected to thrive after the Auckland Regional Council fences a 555ha wildlife sanctuary on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula at the end of this year.

Although there are other “mainland island” sanctuaries for wildlife, this will be the closest to Auckland – 40 minutes by car or a bus trip from the central city.

ARC open sanctuary co-ordinator Matt Maitland said it would be the most popular sanctuary yet, following successful “mainland islands” in Wellington, Dunedin, Maungatautari and Tawharanui.

The plan is to fence off Shakespear Regional Park at the tip of the peninsula and then poison predators in the park.

It is hoped bellbirds and kakariki will move along the peninsula to suburban areas, while land-lubbers like kiwi and takahe will have a safe home close to Auckland.

Each year, about 20,000 people make the ferry trip from Auckland to Tiritiri Matangi, a thriving island bird sanctuary 4km off the peninsula. But although kakariki and bellbirds make the journey the other way to the park, weasels and rats make it hard for them to breed.

Mr Maitland said the bird populations would explode once the predators were gone. By the end of the first summer, they would be flying down the peninsula towards Auckland. Once pests had been killed, flightless birds such as kiwi would be given a helping hand to the park by conservation workers.

full story

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TV3 > News > Weather/Environment News > Story > Rat scare at island sanctuary averted by four-legged hero

An island sanctuary for rare birds has been at the centre of a pest scare today. Motuihe Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has been rat-free for 15 years, but yesterday paw prints were found at several spots on the island.

Jack the dog has been specially trained to smell a rat and today his senses were put to the test.

Jack and his owner, Fin Buchanan, have been training for seven years for a day like today.

But with a camera watching Jack’s every step, finding the Motuihe rat still looked like big weight to bear.

The rogue rat threatened the Department of Conservation’s million dollar plans to release kiwi and other rare birds on the island.

“This is the last thing we needed or expected,” DoC threats officer Ditch Keeling said. “We haven’t had a rat on here for 15 years. It’s really quite bizarre.”

The rat is thought to have come in off a boat and prints had been spotted in five of the island’s 45 tunnels, cunningly built to detect rat-steps.

DoC staff like Mr Keeling had been setting traps through the night.

“You live an adrenaline mode for the first ten days and then you start to get really tired,” Mr Keeling said.

But it was not long before Jack found the elusive rodent.

“Obviously we’re pretty elated,” Ditch Keeling said. “If this is the only rat on the island then we’ve just pulled off the fastest complete eradications ever taken place.”

Close inspection showed the rat was a female. The Department of Conservation will now need to check for signs whether she has ever had babies. And if that is the case, Jack could be making a return trip to the sanctuary.

video of story

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Scoop: Zoos leap into action to help save frogs

Image by  Paddy Ryan

Auckland Zoo is inviting Kiwis to join it in leaping into the global Amphibian Ark Year of the Frog campaign, which will be helping to save the four endangered New Zealand native frog species.

Tonight’s Wild Bean Cafe ZooMusic Katchafire concert will help raise funds for in-the-field testing for amphibian chytrid fungus in Hochstetter’s frogs. It marks the first of a number of events and activities the zoo will run through to March 2009 to generate awareness of and support for frog conservation.

After thriving for over 360 million years, a third of the world’s 6300 amphibian species are now threatened with extinction. Despite new species being discovered, scientists say extinctions are exceeding discoveries.

Topping the list as the most evolutionarily distinct and critically endangered amphibian on the planet is New Zealand’s own native Archey’s frog – for which Auckland Zoo has a dedicated breeding and research facility. New Zealand’s other three frog species – Hamilton’s, Maud Island, and Hochstetter’s all fall within the top 100 most threatened amphibians These, and thousands of other amphibians, are in crisis due to the deadly disease amphibian chytrid fungus (not treatable in the wild) as well as habitat loss, pollution, pesticides, introduced species, and climate change.

full media release on scoop

Archey’s frog with froglets , short video .

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Scoop: ‘Extinct’ sea bird once again caught

https://i2.wp.com/www.birdlife.org/images/sized/400/b_nz_stormy_palliser2.jpg.jpg

‘Extinct’ sea bird once again caught in the Hauraki Gulf

The once presumed extinct New Zealand storm petrel has again been recently captured in the Hauraki Gulf but its breeding site remains a mystery.

A team including Department of Conservation staff and scientists, funded jointly by DOC and a grant from National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration, caught three birds during October and early November this year. This brings the tally to seven birds captured since the petrel was rediscovered by Dr Stephenson and Sav Saville of the coast of Whitianga in January 2003.

Ornithologist Dr Stephenson, who snared two birds with one shot using a custom-made net gun, said the moment was unforgettable.

“It’s not everyday you get to hold a seabird that for 150 years was thought to be extinct, let alone hold two.”

None of the captured birds showed signs of breeding, so the birds were released without attaching transmitters, said Dr Stephenson. The transmitters are used to track the birds with the aim of discovering which island they are breeding on.

full media release

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