“Rat Pack” on call in the Bay of Islands
This formidable team of conservation dogs – fondly known as the Rat Pack – has spent four days scouring the seven islands of Ipipiri for rodents. They are working alongside Project Island Song to support the mission to create an archipelago of pest-free island sanctuaries for all to enjoy.
And the great news? No pests found at all!
These four Terrier Crosses are specially trained to detect the scent of rodents. Other conservation dogs are trained to detect pests such as stoats, plague skinks and argentine ants. They are regularly employed to sniff out rats, stoats and other pests as part of their routine schedule to keep the islands pest free.
In the past year, three rat incursions have been detected on the islands using an array of monitoring tools. If a pest has managed to swim or hitch a lift to the islands, the conservation dogs are called in to sniff out where the stowaway might be.
Special permission is granted to let the team of dogs onto the islands. They are rigorously trained - and muzzled whilst working - to protect the precious native species present on these unique islands. Keeping the pests away is allowing Project Island Song to fulfil the aim to gradually reintroduce those species that would once have been found in abundance here. Tieke (saddleback), popokotea (whitehead) and toutouwai (North Island robin) are the first species to be successfully relocated, with more species, including kiwi, planned to follow over the next 15 years.
The rat pack is on call for use across the country. Project Island Song is increasingly recognising the need for its own team of conservation dogs.
Names of dogs from left to right, Ranger’s name in brackets: Cody (Ange Newport), Tike (Andrew Blanshard), Moss and Will (Miriam Ritchie).