Ferret kills Hunua kiwi
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.