Pest and stray pet alert!
It has been a very busy season with pest incursions and unwanted pet visitors on the island wildlife sanctuaries. Since Christmas, the fortnightly island checks have detected pest-mammal foot prints and dead rats in traps which triggered our pest incursion response operations. To maintain the islands’ pest-free status this response included the setting up of extra tracking tunnels, rat traps on Poroporo, Urupukapuka and Okahu, and rodent dog surveillance work.
Rats and mice
Seven rats and one mouse have been removed from the islands.
Stoat on Moturua
We received two independent reports of a stoat on Moturua in the New Year. Stoats and other mustelids pose one of the greatest incursion risks. A report on 2 January of a stoat on the Army Bay track was immediately responded to by DOC with a stoat detection dog and additional traps. We also later received an email of a sighting in Homestead Bay on 31 Dec. The same stoat could easily cover this distance. No further evidence of a stoat has been found on the islands, but incursion response will continue as a precaution.
A Burmese cat went for a midnight swim from a yacht anchored between Moturua and Motukiekie on 10 January. The owners promptly reported it missing - and were most apologetic due the huge threat this cat posed to the native wildlife if it made it ashore. A cat detection dog and traps were deployed immediately, and teams scouring both islands soon detected the cat had indeed made it ashore to Moturua Island. With the pressure on to promptly remove the cat from the island, the incursion team tirelessly worked until the cat was caught and removed.
We're surprised at the number of cats on board boats this year, including one pair who go ashore by paddleboard. We really appreciate visiting boaties leaving pets at home when in the Bay, and definitely not taking them onto the islands.
We're in the process of reviewing how the mainland pest management is carried out to see if there are options for improvement. We're particularly interested in Norway rat habitats and are working closely with mainland landowners to identify these.