Fer­ret kills Hunua kiwi

Manukau Courier - - HEALTH & BEAUTY - STAFF RE­PORTERS

One fer­ret has ‘‘quite likely’’ killed nearly half of the kiwi liv­ing in a for­est in ru­ral south Auck­land.

Seven kiwi were re­leased into the Hunua Ranges Re­gional Park ear­lier this year in a bid to re­pop­u­late the area af­ter a 40-year hia­tus, but just four re­main, Auck­land Coun­cil’s re­gional parks man­ager Rachel Kelle­her said. A large fer­ret be­lieved to be re­spon­si­ble for three ki­wis’ deaths had since been caught in a trap.

‘‘These types of sit­u­a­tions are part of the chal­lenge of man­ag­ing kiwi in the wild,’’ she said.

Kelle­her said DNA anal­y­sis had con­firmed the same fer­ret had preyed on two of the dead kiwi, and fur sam­ples from the scene of the third kiwi’s death were also from a fer­ret: ’’Based on the results from the other two birds we be­lieve it is quite likely it could be the one fer­ret re­spon­si­ble,’’ she said.

Fer­rets had not been noted in ear­lier pest mon­i­tor­ing of the Hunua Ranges, but would be tar­geted in the next few weeks to en­sure their elim­i­na­tion, Kelle­her said. Stoats were thought to be the main risk to the Hunua kiwi. The brown kiwi were orig­i­nally from the Coro­man­del and were fit­ted with trans­mit­ters al­low­ing han­dlers to track their lo­ca­tions. Auck­land Mayor Phil Goff said the deaths in­di­cated stronger mea­sures were needed to elim­i­nate pests in the re­gion.

‘‘This is sad news and a blow to staff and vol­un­teers,’’ he said.

The killed kiwi were part of a re-pop­u­la­tion scheme in the Hunua Ranges.

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