Release boosts whio numbers

It's been a record year for whio/blue ducks in the Egmont National Park.

Department of Conservation staff have located 29 ducklings this season and earlier this month released 10 juveniles.

The young birds are from the captive bird programme based at Peacock Springs, Christchurch.

Five were bred at Auckland Zoo and five at Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch. Air New Zealand flew the ducks to the Esplanade bird aviaries in Palmerston North for whio captive breeding co-ordinator Peter Russell to drive the ducks to Taranaki for the release.

Genesis Energy and the Department of Conservation are partners in a five-year programme to secure the future of this threatened native bird.

The "Whio Forever" partnership helps implement a national recovery plan to protect breeding areas and habitat. It helps DOC double the number of fully-secure whio breeding sites throughout the country and boost pest control efforts to enhance productivity and survival for these rare native ducks.

The latest release brings the park's whio population to around 60.

The 10 new residents were to be released in an area of the park that's intensively trapped by DOC.

East Taranaki Environment Trust enhances this protection by trapping outside the park.

The 10 whio received a blessing from Sandy Parata, kaumatua from Ngati Ruanui, and five children from Midhirst School assisted DOC rangers in the release.

- Stratford Press

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