Bird photographers visiting the wetlands next to the Hawke's Bay Airport were shocked to capture a Middle-European weasel carrying its young.
Former Dannevirke man Donald Snook and Oscar Thomas were photographing wildlife, with a keen eye for marsh crakes, in the Ahuriri estuary last December when the furry critter came into focus.
"We went to look for marsh crakes specifically but it is a known area for lots of birds. It's a really big area and very significant for a lot of species," Mr Thomas said.
"That's the third or fourth time I've ever seen a weasel and I was lucky enough to get a photo that time."
Weasels were introduced to New Zealand in the 1880s as one of three species, including stoats and ferrets, that naturally occur throughout Asia, Europe and North America.
A major predator of native birds, weasels are found in low numbers in most places throughout the country and impact on lizard and insects and well as birdlife.
Mr Thomas said it was "alarming" to see a weasel in the wetlands and wanted the Department of Conservation to do something about it.
"I think DoC should be doing some sort of pest control for the area but it is also a good idea to have a local group for the area, it's just really hard to organise."
A DoC spokesperson said weasels had been seen and caught in the area before and were actively trapped by the organisation, as they were recognised as pests which damaged wildlife.
"There are a couple of trapping programmes being carried out in the Ahuriri estuary and we foresee this network growing in the future. There are some community initiatives that are currently being supported by the DoC Community Fund to undertake pest control."
The spokesperson said the organisation had funding to deal with a whole range of pests, weasels included, that was used where it was needed most.
"In this instance there are already trapping regimes in place doing good work."
Mr Thomas said he was concerned about birdlife, like the marsh crakes, which were already threatened by habitat loss due to the decline of dense wetland vegetation.
"I'm doing pest control not far from my house in a really small patch of bush and once you get out the traps it's quite amazing to see how much is in there. In about six months we caught four possums and 20 rats in this really tiny patch of bush."
Mr Snook said he thought birdlife in the wetlands area would disappear altogether if pest numbers increased.