DOC ramps up battle for birds
Just how likely is it that trampers will encounter moa, in the Dart Valley, in 50 to 100 years’ time?
It’s a question the Mirror put to the Department of Conservation recently, whenMP Trevor Mallard’s wishful thinking about the moa’s restoration to the Wainuiomata Hills created a mild media ruckus.
And we got a courteous but cool response from the Wakatipu department’s conservation partnerships manager Greg Lind.
‘‘Rest assured Queenstown DOC is not going to reply to this ‘opportunity’.’’
He politely added ‘‘Thanks all the same’’ and a smiley face.
OK, the question could have been interpreted as being facetious, maybe a bit tongue in cheek to conservationists, who obviously have their hands full trying to keep predators from knuckling our native birds. Why ‘‘de-extinct’’ birds when we’re struggling to keep the current species from becoming extinct?
Maybe DOC’s reticence can be explained when the bombshell hit a few weeks later, in the form of New Zealand’s biggest planned 1080 drop, which revealed just how serious the predator threat is in South Island forests.
A ‘‘beech mast’’ had been predicted in autumn this year. This is when beech trees produce an overabundance of seeds, which triggers a predator explosion. More seeds means more rodents and stoats – bad news for native birds. When seed supplies run out, the furry forest enemies will turn on endangered species, such as mo¯ hua, ka¯ ka¯ , kea, whio and kiwi along with bats and land snails, also at risk.
Operations would be carried out in 29 forests, across 700,000 hectares, starting this month and finishing in November, to save native birds from extinction.
One thing’s for sure, conservationists are going to war and the battle lines have been drawn. Look out predators, DOC’s taking no prisoners.
Hit list: Stoats are a key target in New Zealand’s largest predator control programme "Battle for the Birds".