1000 pests a week caught on kiwi coast

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Phillip Smith, from the Waimate North Landcare Group, sets a rat trap. Photo / Rolf Fuchs, DOC
Phillip Smith, from the Waimate North Landcare Group, sets a rat trap. Photo / Rolf Fuchs, DOC

Endangered wildlife in eastern Northland have been given a better chance of survival with the removal of more than 113,000 pests from the "Kiwi Coast" over the past three years.

The Kiwi Coast is a collaborative initiative that supports and links over 60 community, Department of Conservation and iwi-led projects in eastern Northland to create New Zealand's first modern day kiwi corridor. In the past three years, the initiative has seen 113,102 animal pests removed.

In 2015 alone, a total of 52,091 pests were trapped, meaning that every week over 1000 pests are being destroyed on the Kiwi Coast, coordinator Ngaire Tyson said.

A Northland brown kiwi chick in burrow, within the Tanekaha Community Pest Control Area, Hikurangi.
A Northland brown kiwi chick in burrow, within the Tanekaha Community Pest Control Area, Hikurangi.

Individually the pest totals from 2013 to 2015 included: 47,054 possums; 45,278 rats; 6,242 hedgehogs; 2,384 stoats; 1,636 weasels; 3,584 wild rabbits; 1,623 feral cats; 291 feral pigs; 281 magpies; 4,586 mynas and seven ferrets.

The figures are the real results recorded from actual trap checks and the data then collated from all the groups involved. The shared pest results represent thousands of hours of trap checking each year by a mix of unpaid and professional trappers working hard to reduce animal pests so native wildlife can thrive.

Ms Tyson said the results are minimums of the actual numbers of pests destroyed as many groups also use poison baits, and pests eradicated this way are not included.

Over 60 groups and projects along Northland's east coast from Whangarei Heads to Hihi are now involved in the Kiwi Coast.

"Together the combined total area under pest control with traps and toxins on the Kiwi Coast has now reached 74,623 hectares.

"This area continues to grow as new groups start, existing trapping areas expand and more communities get involved; resulting in more and more animal pests being removed from Northland each year," she said.

Some of the groups involved in the Kiwi Coast have been operating for over a decade and have successfully created biodiversity strongholds on both public and private land.

DoC's Northland Kiwi Call Count for 2014 showed that overall kiwi are increasing at a slow and steady rate at sites along the Kiwi Coast where predators are controlled.

"This bucks the national trend identified by the Kiwis for Kiwi Trust of a nationwide decline in kiwi of 2 per cent per year.

"In fact, monitoring shows kiwi populations have more than doubled at a number of sites on the Kiwi Coast," Ms Tyson said.

"As stoats are known to kill 95 per cent of wild kiwi chicks within their first year, removing 873 stoats from the Kiwi Coast in one year was going to be a big help in ensuring that Northland brown kiwi populations continue to increase. As pest control occurs along the Kiwi Coast, we can expect to see kiwi and other native wildlife such as pateke/brown teal, korimako/bellbird and kaka thrive and expand into new areas."

- Northern Advocate

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