Otago Daily Times

Preda­tor erad­i­ca­tion to get cash

- STAFF RE­PORTER Animals · Wildlife · Iceland · New Zealand · New Zealand Department of Conservation

MIL­LIONS of dol­lars have been ear­marked for a project to make Ste­wart Is­land preda­tor free.

It was an­nounced to lo­cals of the is­land last night that the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (Doc) had com­mit­ted $1 mil­lion over 12 months, with up to $5 mil­lion on the ta­ble over the next five years.

Preda­tor Free Rak­iura chair­man Paul Nor­ris said the fund­ing was a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone which en­abled the group to move the project to the next phase, plan­ning and de­sign.

‘‘This is won­der­ful news for all those who want a preda­tor­free Rak­iura and a huge mile­stone for our group. The fund­ing will be used to un­der­stand what is re­quired to achieve erad­i­ca­tion on Rak­iura.

‘‘If suc­cess­ful, Rak­iura will be the big­gest preda­tor­free is­land in New Zealand and will lead the way for the rest of the coun­try.’’

This year’s fund­ing would be used to es­tab­lish a strong gov­er­nance struc­ture, be­gin project de­sign and de­velop a project plan, Mr Nor­ris said.

Preda­tor Free Rak­iura aimed to rid the is­land, home to 20 threat­ened species, of in­tro­duced preda­tors such as rats, pos­sums, feral cats and hedge­hogs.

The group in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from lo­cal iwi, cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment agen­cies, hunt­ing and recre­ational groups and the com­mu­nity.

Te Ru­naka O Awarua kai­whaka­haere Dean Whaanga said achiev­ing a preda­tor­free is­land was a for­ward­think­ing goal.

‘‘In a gen­er­a­tion’s time, to have Rak­iura preda­tor free and the manu and bio­di­ver­sity thriv­ing, will be a won­der­ful ac­com­plish­ment — not only for Aotearoa but for the world.’’

Doc part­ner­ships di­rec­tor Barry Han­son said it would take New Zealand an­other step closer to its goal to be preda­tor free by 2050.

‘‘Rak­iura could truly be­come a haven for so many spe­cial taonga species — such as kakapo — and in turn will pro­vide ben­e­fits to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.’’

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