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Archive for the ‘rat’ Category

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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Scoop: Native birds feel no fear when facing foes

Click to enlarge

Sarah Whitwell with the stuffed stoat and morepork she has been using to test fear responses of the North Island robin.


Endangered native birds are at risk of losing their instinct to recognise and flee mammalian enemies when moved between predator-free and predator-filled sites, says a Massey researcher.

Sarah Whitwell, a biology Masters student at Massey’s Institute of Natural Resources in Albany, designed an experiment using a pulley system to dangle a stuffed stoat and morepork at nesting North Island robins to test their fear responses. She says most robins in areas free of introduced predators such as stoats failed to get into a flap at the sight of an enemy, albeit a fake version.

Her research adds to growing evidence that native birds’ responses to mammalian predators are not genetically hard-wired.

“That’s because introduced mammal predators have been here a relatively short time, whereas native birds have been here for millions of years.”

She says already endangered native bird species would be at increased risk if moved back to wilderness sites with mammalian predators after inhabiting mammal-free conservation areas without some form of predator-recognition training.

The responses of robins in predator-controlled Wenderholm Reserve and Tiritiri Matangi Island near Auckland were compared with those in the central North Island, where the birds have long co-existed with native and introduced predators.

FULL PRESS REALEASE ON SCOOP

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Scoop: On the lookout for lizards
Wellington green gecko, DOC
Click to enlarge

Conservation staff on the DOC Poneke area-managed Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbour are preparing for an exciting arrival on Friday’s 10 am ferry sailing.

15 rare Wellington green geckos, seven of which have spent the last twelve months on ‘sabbatical’ at the city’s Karori Sanctuary, are being released on the island on Friday 15 November as part of an annual translocation programme – the largest to date.

DOC first began translocating green geckos to the island sanctuary in 2006 to create a self-sustaining population on this predator-free island. They have been working with local lizard breeders to ensure a genetically diverse supply of geckos for release on a yearly basis. This year, 16 lucky local school children with a special interest in conservation have been chosen to take part in the release.

‘Establishing a safe population on Matiu/Somes will help ensure survival’, said DOC biodiversity ranger Brent Tandy.

Local lizard enthusiasts and conservation projects like Karori Sanctuary play a critical support role for DOC’s gecko recovery programme in terms of both advocacy and breeding. One year old animals are taken to the Sanctuary for display in a special gecko enclosure before being released on the island at two years old.

full

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Tui to flourish after crackdown on pests – New Zealand news on Stuff.co.nz

A big jump in the number of tui visiting Hamilton is predicted next year as the impact of a successful breeding project kicks in.

Environment Waikato expects a bumper tui breeding season at its Hamilton Halo project sites this spring, thanks to a highly successful winter of pest control operations. This is expected to produce results by next winter.

EW aims to attract more tui to the city by wiping out the birds’ two main predators – ship rats and possums – at breeding sites near the city.

It is currently controlling the pests at one Whatawhata site and two sites near Cambridge, Maungakawa Scenic Reserve and Te Miro Reserve. There is around 850 hectares of native bush under protection.

The regional council devised a special pest control programme to kill the rats using more than 1300 bait stations across the three sites.

Pest control took place in August and September, before the October tui breeding season.

EW councillor Paula Southgate said the results of a recent rat census were excellent, with only 2.2 per cent of the 225 tracking tunnels registering rat footprints, compared with up to 41 per cent before pest control.Estimates from Landcare Research were that nesting success could increase from around 25 per cent to 75 per cent.

There were also reports that native seedlings were flourishing on the forest floor without possums and rats around. Other native birds, such as kereru and bellbirds, are also expected to benefit from the programme.

original story on stuff.co.nz

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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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$35m plan to rid island of rats and feral cats – 11 Mar 2008 – NZ Herald: New Zealand and International environment and global warming news
Peter Jean Caley

oil painting of South island Tomtit by Peter Jean Caley

Stewart Island interests are considering an ambitious $35 million proposal to eradicate rats, wild cats and possums from the island.

The proposal has initial support from parts of the community but is likely to be vehemently opposed by deer hunters. It includes a predator fence around the settlement of Oban and plans for widespread aerial poison drops.

Described as New Zealand’s biggest conservation project, it aims to “make Stewart Island the Galapagos of the South”.

Copies of the proposal have been given to community groups and key “stakeholders” before a public meeting on April 3.

The “draft feasibility study” has been prepared by the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community and Environment Trust, with support from the Department of Conservation and the Tindall Foundation.

Proposed “border control” measures could include teams of rodent-checking dogs monitoring departures from Bluff and Invercargill and arrivals on the island.

It is hoped bird species such as kakapo, saddleback, mohua, kokako and teal may eventually be reintroduced to Stewart Island.

full story

update: tv3 video of the same story

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Greater Wellington – Long Gully control programme to protect native birds and bush
Long Gully Map
Native birds and bush in Long Gully, near the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, will benefit from a possum and rat control operation which begins on Monday 8 October 2007. The operation is part of an ongoing programme to keep possum and rat numbers at low levels.

Long Gully is a strip of bush that includes some private land owners and Wellington Natural Heritage Trust land. It is situated between the suburbs of Karori and Brooklyn and is adjacent to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Control will be carried out in areas of bush and scrub.

“The programme will be of huge benefit to the native species in the area, as well as to neighbouring properties, creating a safe place for native birds to breed and enabling native trees to regenerate,” says Greater Wellington biosecurity officer Glen Falconer. here for full story

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