Tak­ing the fight to kiwi predators

The Dominion Post - - News - ILLYA MCLELLAN

Preda­tor control is a war, and the peo­ple on the front line think we can win it.

Those in­volved with con­ser­va­tion of the kiwi and other en­dan­gered species be­lieve we are mak­ing progress in the fight.

After los­ing 14 kiwi to pre­da­tion from 2014 to 2016, Pukaha Mt Bruce Wildlife Cen­tre didn’t lose a sin­gle one in 2017 and man­aged to trap 40 fer­rets, 55 stoats and 516 rats.

Pukaha con­ser­va­tion man­ager Todd Jenk­in­son said that was thanks to the adap­ta­tion of new tech­nolo­gies and the dili­gence of the peo­ple who elim­i­nated predators be­fore they had a chance to even smell a kiwi.

John Bis­sell runs Back­blocks En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment and is con­tracted by Pukaha to control predators.

After about 20 years work­ing in pest and preda­tor control, Bis­sell had seen an evo­lu­tion in the field with the knowl­edge and tech­nol­ogy around it con­stantly chang­ing.

Preda­tor Free 2050 put things into the fore­front of the pub­lic mind. Though some viewed it as po­lit­i­cal, it sparked in­ter­est in what was be­ing done to re­duce the num­ber of predators and in­crease the sur­vival rate of na­tive birds and wildlife, he said.

‘‘We are fight­ing a war here. We don’t win every bat­tle but we are mak­ing progress.

‘‘At Pukaha the kiwi get a lot of the press but out­side of that there are amaz­ing things hap­pen­ing with ko¯kako, ka¯ ka¯ , white­heads and other species.

‘‘I’m pas­sion­ate about trap­ping, about do­ing my job prop­erly. You have to be so fussy about it. There are so many things you can do around a trap to in­crease the ef­fec­tive­ness. Vari­a­tion of trap­ping meth­ods is also key.’’

Bis­sell likened trap­ping to fish­ing in that you some­times have to vary what you do to get the same re­sult. Data col­lec­tion was also ex­tremely im­por­tant.

‘‘Data is . . . crit­i­cal to un­der­stand­ing. I speak to game­keep­ers in the UK and trap­pers in the United States to stay ahead. We have de­vel­oped our sys­tems to be able to re­spond quickly in the ad­vent of a preda­tor at­tack in the re­serve.

‘‘After an in­ci­dent we have a re­sponse in ac­tion within hours. I have spe­cial baits in my freezer ready to go. We lost a kiwi in March and within days we had trapped three fer­rets at the site, and have had no losses since.

‘‘We are tak­ing the at­tack to the predators. If we do that, we have a bet­ter chance of win­ning this war.’’

Jenk­in­son said al­though there were set­backs, they felt they were slowly win­ning the fight.

‘‘We need the whole com­mu­nity to get in be­hind us. Ev­ery­body has to play their part by trap­ping pests in their own back yards and be­ing re­spon­si­ble with their pets.

‘‘The pub­lic need to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of neu­ter­ing cats and not dump­ing un­wanted kit­tens. With greater ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially of our kids, we will get there.’’

Ko¯ kako num­bers are up at Pukaha and other species have also no­tice­ably in­creased, says John Bis­sell, of Back­blocks En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.