Community groups under the microscope

Has your community group identified specific longterm conservation goals? What outcomes do you expect to see from the many hours of volunteer work that your team puts in? Have you thought about how your project contributes to the wider New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy? In a recent report published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology, … Continue reading Community groups under the microscope

Tree-climbing habits of predators studied

Many of NZ’s introduced mammal predators – including house mice – are good at climbing trees. To understand the impact they have on tree-nesting birds and other tree-living wildlife, we need to learn more about how predators use vegetation compared with the ground. Mice aren’t commonly found in trees, for example, but that changes in … Continue reading Tree-climbing habits of predators studied

Ruakuri’s unique karst landscape benefits from zero rat density

The Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, which includes New Zealand’s internationally renowned Ruakuri Cave, is an epic example of cave and karst landscape and sanctuary to New Zealand’s endemic and vulnerable fauna and flora, including long-tailed bats and bush falcons. It’s limestone country with caves and stalactites, limestone outcrops, tomo holes and disappearing streams. In recent years, … Continue reading Ruakuri’s unique karst landscape benefits from zero rat density

Kea survival during aerial 1080 – identifying the risks

Predator control in kea habitat is mostly by aerial 1080 – and some kea are known to have died from eating the bait. It’s not an outcome that anyone wants to see. So what are the risk factors? What might be done to mitigate those risks and why do leading conservationists, including kea experts, think … Continue reading Kea survival during aerial 1080 – identifying the risks

Lego kākāpō design needs 10,000 supporters

University student Hayden P. is a Lego enthusiast with a passion for New Zealand birds. If his latest Lego design – a kākāpō – reaches 10,000 supporters on the Lego Ideas website then the design will be considered for commercial release as an official Lego product to be sold worldwide. Come on New Zealand, let’s get … Continue reading Lego kākāpō design needs 10,000 supporters

Protection and accessibility are key goals for Wharariki Onetahua Restoration

The first time that 80 double-trap DOC 200s were set out at the Wharariki Onetahua Restoration site they caught 29 rats and 25 stoats! Some traps caught two predators! Catching 25 stoats off 80 traps is an awesome total – but think about what that says about the sheer army of predators that wildlife at … Continue reading Protection and accessibility are key goals for Wharariki Onetahua Restoration

Clearing river islands may help nesting terns

Researchers from the University of Otago and Department of Conservation have been investigating how to improve the plight of our endangered black-fronted terns in research recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology. Traps, bait stations and a Komatsu bulldozer can all help make riverbed nest-sites safer. But one key predator was still undeterred … Continue reading Clearing river islands may help nesting terns

Parihaka volunteer roles ‘not too onerous’ and everyone welcome

Dai Morgan says there’s a job for everyone in the Parihaka Landcare Group. “It’s not too onerous. There are different grades of work. It’s usually one Sunday a month and all done in three hours. The traplines can be checked in small sections,” he adds. “If we get enough people, we can do it very … Continue reading Parihaka volunteer roles ‘not too onerous’ and everyone welcome

Post Shop and workshops help new Wanaka group recruit backyard trappers

Since forming in Feb 2018, the Wanaka Backyard Trapping Group has been going from strength to strength. “The Post Shop approached us about putting up a display,” explains the group’s co-ordinator, Kris Vollebregt. “It was great. Customers were all standing in the Post Shop queue line by the display – it’s a captive audience! The … Continue reading Post Shop and workshops help new Wanaka group recruit backyard trappers

Latest bird survey confirms Hollyford Conservation Trust success

Rifleman are spreading across Martins Bay in Fiordland and there are more kakariki and kaka – “lots more than ever encountered before”. Those are just some of the encouraging results reported after the latest bird counts commissioned by the Hollyford Conservation Trust and carried out by Te Anau company ‘Mainly Fauna’. “We have had anecdotal … Continue reading Latest bird survey confirms Hollyford Conservation Trust success

Regional Councils tackle biodiversity challenge

New Zealand’s regional councils have just released a ‘think piece’ on the future of biodiversity management in New Zealand. “Our native flora and fauna is a taonga that does much to define us as a nation. It’s also under threat, and we are losing ground in many cases. This timely thinkpiece suggests how we could … Continue reading Regional Councils tackle biodiversity challenge

Eastern Bays Songbird Project ambitious and innovative

Five Auckland suburbs, 16,000 households – if you think it sounds like an ambitious trapping project, you’re not far wrong. Innovative ideas, funding support and well thought out planning are all going to be crucial in the months and years ahead for the Eastern Bays Songbird Project. The backyard component of the trapping programme is … Continue reading Eastern Bays Songbird Project ambitious and innovative

Hawke’s Bay study shows predator control contributes to farmland biodiversity

Predator control for conservation purposes tends to focus on reserves, sanctuaries and remnants of native habitat rather than open pastures. When researchers publish articles on pastural predator control, they’re generally focused on possums and TB eradication. But landscape scale predator control on multi-tenure farmland is increasingly playing a part in Predator Free 2050 goals and … Continue reading Hawke’s Bay study shows predator control contributes to farmland biodiversity

Otago groups join forces for Predator Free Dunedin

It’s the new group on the block. Predator Free Dunedin launched just a few weeks ago in early October. But while the umbrella organisation is newly formed, it’s made up of 20 well-established Dunedin volunteer groups and larger organisations representing a wealth of Otago conservation experience. “Predator Free Dunedin includes big institutions like the University … Continue reading Otago groups join forces for Predator Free Dunedin

Urban reintroductions – going wild in city spaces

Suburban gardens, city parks, reserves and thoughtfully planted urban spaces can mean that our cities are surprisingly diverse in plants and habitats. But so far reintroductions of native species have been restricted to islands, fenced sanctuaries and remote habitats. If there’s a sanctuary close to your suburb, like Zealandia for example, you may reap the … Continue reading Urban reintroductions – going wild in city spaces

How a tusked, carnivorous weta was saved

The research happened a decade ago now – this paper was published back in 2008 – but how many people have even heard of the large, carnivorous Mercury Island tusked weta (Motuweta isolata), let alone the extraordinary story of its step back from the cliff-face of extinction? Despite its large size (adult body length 46–73 … Continue reading How a tusked, carnivorous weta was saved

Another twenty-one schools become Kiwibank Predator Free Schools

We are excited to announce another 21 schools have been selected to become part of our Kiwibank Predator Free schools programme. The successful schools are spread between Northland and Bluff (literally!) and include a range of rural and urban, primary and secondary.   The Kiwibank Predator Free Schools’ programme, a partnership between Predator Free NZ … Continue reading Another twenty-one schools become Kiwibank Predator Free Schools

We’ve teamed up with NZ illustrator to create iconic wildlife poster

We commissioned local artist Erin Forsyth to help us create a stunning poster featuring some of our native species – Taonga o Aotearoa. Our aim is to get the poster into every classroom and DOC hut in the country, to help remind people what we’re protecting by creating a predator free New Zealand. Most Kiwis will have a … Continue reading We’ve teamed up with NZ illustrator to create iconic wildlife poster

CatchIT’s ‘natural innovators’ brimming with ideas for trapping

Got a ferret you’re struggling to trap? How about using a milk bottle top filled with milk for a lure? It worked a treat for one child taking part in the Forest Bridge Trust’s award-winning CatchIT schools programme. “Children are natural innovators,” says Liz Maire, educator for the Trust. “Some of them have discovered things … Continue reading CatchIT’s ‘natural innovators’ brimming with ideas for trapping

Ahipara youngsters lead the way

They’re some of the youngest members of Ahipara’s small seaside community, but the children of Ahipara Sandhoppers are doing everything they can to help their environment from picking up rubbish, to growing plants for butterflies, trapping predators and even deconstructing broken appliances for recycling. What’s more – these Kaitiaki Kids haven’t even started school yet! … Continue reading Ahipara youngsters lead the way

Researchers study new ways to stop bait going mouldy

It’s not quite a sugar-coated pill, but the principle is similar – a nice flavoured coating that not only encourages rodents to take the bait, but also protects the toxic cereal bait within from deteriorating over time and going mouldy. Norway rats, in particular, have been found to avoid mouldy bait. Research recently published in … Continue reading Researchers study new ways to stop bait going mouldy

Port Chalmers farming family helps keep ‘Halo’ free of predators

With Orokonui Sanctuary nearby and the virgin forest of the Mihiwaka Reserve bordering their sheep and beef farm, Port Chalmers farmers John and Shona Chapman along with their son Robert and his family, had some good reasons for trapping predators on their own land. “We started trapping on the farm about two years ago, mainly … Continue reading Port Chalmers farming family helps keep ‘Halo’ free of predators

Lessons learned in combating mice on Quail Island

Canterbury’s Quail Island Ecological Restoration Trust has been working with Department of Conservation staff and researchers from Lincoln and other universities to eradicate introduced mammals from the island and document their processes, successes and learning outcomes in an article recently published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology. “Ōtamahua/Quail Island is an 85 ha Recreation … Continue reading Lessons learned in combating mice on Quail Island

Family swaps military life for remote Marlborough Sounds

Both Chris and Barbara Faulls used to have careers in the military. It meant an adventurous life with postings to all sorts of locations around the world, but in 1996 they made the decision to return to the remote beef farm in the Marlborough Sounds where Barbara had grown up. “We got to the point … Continue reading Family swaps military life for remote Marlborough Sounds

Tūhoe share memories of how their forests used to be

Researchers from Landcare Research and Tūhoe Tuawhenua Trust recently worked together to look at community-based monitoring by Māori to assess forest health. They talked with 55 forest users from the Tuawhenua tribal group, carrying out 80 interviews in both Māori and English, over a period of 10 years, to get a better understanding of Māori … Continue reading Tūhoe share memories of how their forests used to be

‘8 days a week’ effort for Purangi kiwi

Bob and Karen Schumacher have been working “8 days a week since 2004” to help kiwi at their QEII covenanted property at Purangi in East Taranaki, with an extensive trapping programme using best practice techniques that has steadily grown to encompasses more and more wildlife habitat. “We do the basics consistently, month in, month out,” … Continue reading ‘8 days a week’ effort for Purangi kiwi

Birds return favour keeping nursery pests at bay

Three generations of the Bayly family are involved in trapping predators on the family farm on the Kaipara Coast, half an hour’s drive north of Auckland. David Bayly’s parents, Don and Margaret bought the land back in 1960 and Don Bayly started actively trapping 20 years ago. Back then, there was next to no birdlife … Continue reading Birds return favour keeping nursery pests at bay

Young trappers keen to help on Ashley estuary

Arlo Poore is only 5 years old – but he’s already something of an experienced trapper. He regularly helps Dad, Stuart, check his two traplines on the Ashley rivermouth and estuary near Waikuku in North Canterbury. “Arlo gets excited when we’ve caught something,” says Stuart. “He’s good at recognising stoats, weasels and rats. We get … Continue reading Young trappers keen to help on Ashley estuary

Mice numbers in the absence of mammal predators

House mice are the smallest mammal predators to have been introduced to Aotearoa/New Zealand since humans first arrived here around 1280AD. The mice arrived on European ships by the 1820s and nowadays they are present in most habitats throughout the country. Worldwide they are among the world’s most prevalent invasive mammals due to their rapid … Continue reading Mice numbers in the absence of mammal predators

Mangonui kids are creative and committed to helping kiwi

East of Kaitaia, near Doubtless Bay and overlooking the Mangonui Harbour, you’ll find Mangonui School. Currently it has just over 140 students in years 1-6 (ages 5-11) and, established in 1858, it is one of the oldest schools in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Teacher, Ryan Kiely says he can see the sea out his classroom window. “I … Continue reading Mangonui kids are creative and committed to helping kiwi

Bait consumption study shows what appeals to rats

D-Block bait and DITRAC All-Weather BLOX are two commonly used, long-life rodent baits with the same active ingredient, the anticoagulant Diphacinone. Rats and mice need to consume bait over several days to get a lethal dose, so it’s important to keep them coming back for more. Although the toxin is the same, the two bait … Continue reading Bait consumption study shows what appeals to rats

Time to rethink the weka’s bad-boy image

Weka don’t tend to be the first bird chosen for reintroduction in recovering habitats. Their destructive and predatory tendencies make them controversial residents in restoration projects and they’ve even been removed from some sanctuary islands to make life safer for other native birds. But new research looking at native plant seed dispersal shows the complexity … Continue reading Time to rethink the weka’s bad-boy image

‘Rivers Rare’ tells success story of Waitaki braided river conservation

When the Waitaki hydro system was developed, 7,400 ha of open braided river habitat and 3,900 ha of swamplands were lost in order to ‘bring power to the people’. As well as increased electricity generation, we gained 22,250 ha of lakes and 290 ha of lake shoreline, but at a cost. It is the iconic … Continue reading ‘Rivers Rare’ tells success story of Waitaki braided river conservation

Rat-trapping compost bin disposes of rodent problem

What’s a broken-down washing machine got to do with backyard predator control? Not a trick question – just an example of the creative and inventive lengths some entrepreneurs will go to in order to nab rodent compost bin raiders. Hannah Smith in Auckland, had a problem. She wanted to recycle food scraps and garden waste … Continue reading Rat-trapping compost bin disposes of rodent problem

Feral cats feast on Australian reptiles

There are a lot of cats in Australia – researchers have calculated that the total number of feral cats in largely natural landscapes averages 2.07 million (varying between 1.4 million in drought and average years to 5.6 million after prolonged and extensive wet periods in inland Australia). Then there are the strays (an estimated 0.72 … Continue reading Feral cats feast on Australian reptiles

Vision for buff weka drives Motatapu Station restoration

With a vision to re-establish the once-common buff weka, Motatapu Station near Wanaka is tackling habitat restoration and predator control on an impressively large scale. Just check out the numbers so far: • 1,405,278 corrected trap nights (CTN – a ‘catch per effort’ adjustment that takes account of the uncertainty over how long an animal … Continue reading Vision for buff weka drives Motatapu Station restoration

Eleven more Kiwibank Predator Free Communities announced…

We are pleased to announce the addition of 11 communities to our Kiwibank Predator Free Community programme. The most recent round of funding was the most competitive yet, with 69 applications. The majority of applications were from well organised, highly motivated communities wanting to make a difference in their backyards. The quality of applications in … Continue reading Eleven more Kiwibank Predator Free Communities announced…

New stamp issue looks to predator free future

On 1 August five new stamps will be issued by NZ Post celebrating the possibilities of a predator free future. For the design team at NZ Post, it’s quite a departure from the usual subject matter of stamp issues. “The majority of our stamp issues look at culture, history, heritage and people,” explains Simon Allison, Head … Continue reading New stamp issue looks to predator free future

Ferrets and Rabbits – and what history can teach us

With the benefit of hindsight, its easy to condemn those who released rabbits in New Zealand and even more so, those who then released ferrets and stoats to ‘remedy’ the earlier error. What were they thinking? Did they really have no other control options open to them? Were they completely unaware of what the consequences … Continue reading Ferrets and Rabbits – and what history can teach us

DeBretts holiday park makes award-winning effort to control predators

Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort has a whole bunch of eco-initiatives in place to encourage their holiday park guests to reuse, recycle and reduce their impact on the environment. So when the family-owned business heard about Predator Free 2050, the owners and their 60 local staff were keen to get involved in predator control too. In recognition … Continue reading DeBretts holiday park makes award-winning effort to control predators

Riverland Rambles gives glimpse of predator free utopia

Riverlands Rambles is an occasional diary by Wade and Jan Doak that allows the reader a glimpse into another world. This e-book, available to download at a very modest price through Amazon, tells the stories of a special part of mainland New Zealand on the Tutukaka Coast of Northland, where introduced mammal predators have effectively … Continue reading Riverland Rambles gives glimpse of predator free utopia

Managing predators where people live too

We know a lot about the impacts of introduced mammal predators in wild environments and about how to control their numbers in forests and remove them entirely from uninhabited islands. What we don’t know so much about, is the lives and impacts those predators in places where people also live. How can introduced predators best … Continue reading Managing predators where people live too

Upscaling restoration – 8 things to consider

Public conservation land is only a small proportion of the total land of New Zealand and isn’t necessarily representative of the full range of ecosystems. David Norton (School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, Jason Butt (Environment Canterbury) and David Bergin (Environmental Restoration Ltd) look at how we can sustain and enhance native biodiversity on private … Continue reading Upscaling restoration – 8 things to consider

‘Our Land’ statistics paint a stark picture

Statistics are a whole lot more than just a bunch of numbers. They can tell a story. They can paint a picture – and sometimes that picture just isn’t pretty. Take for instance, some of the statistics revealed in ‘Our Land 2018’, a report jointly prepared by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ. … Continue reading ‘Our Land’ statistics paint a stark picture

First rat caught is just the beginning for keen Summerland School team

“We caught our first rat yesterday,” 9-year-old Abhinav announces proudly. “We’ve got rats, mice and hedgehogs at Summerland School.” “We found that out using tracking tunnels and chew cards,” adds Gabriel. “We used peanut butter in the traps,” says Ahmad. “They’re at different sites around the school, like shady areas.” “Most are around the borders … Continue reading First rat caught is just the beginning for keen Summerland School team

Stoats and mice top rockwren predator list

In research just published in international ornithology journal Ibis, Department of Conservation scientist Kerry Anne Weston, Colin O’Donnell, Paul van Dam-Bates and Joanne Monks investigated the impact of introduced mammalian predators in our little-studied alpine region. Their study revealed that stoats and house mice are the 2 introduced predators having the most impact on New … Continue reading Stoats and mice top rockwren predator list

Kiwi are longterm residents at the Harmans’ farm

The first time that someone from Northland’s ‘Kiwi Coast’ project visited Greta and Craig Harman’s Charolais cattle farm to monitor for kiwi presence, they didn’t need to scramble through bush looking for kiwi sign or stay up late playing kiwi call recordings to confirm that kiwi were present. “There were fresh kiwi footprints in the clay … Continue reading Kiwi are longterm residents at the Harmans’ farm

Towards a Predator Free Taranaki

A large-scale predator project, the biggest of its kind in New Zealand, was launched in Taranaki today supported by more than $11 million from the Government. Taranaki aims to be the first predator free region in the country under the project, called Taranaki Taku Tūranga – Our Place, Towards a Predator-Free Taranaki and is led … Continue reading Towards a Predator Free Taranaki

Rat catches get people talking in Sumner

There’s a new topic of conversation doing the rounds of the beach-side cafes and neighbourhood of Sumner in Christchurch. “It’s surprising who gets very proud of catching a dead rat,” says Gabe Ross, coordinator of Te Manu Waiata Project, otherwise known as Predator Free Sumner. “People are pretty enthusiastic, and we’ve had some very positive … Continue reading Rat catches get people talking in Sumner

Poor fliers reluctant to cross water

Passerines are songbirds which can perch. More than half of all bird species are passerines and many of those found in Aotearoa/New Zealand are unique. Some, such as the South Island saddleback, South Island robin and mohua also have a few other attributes in common: they’re rare, very vulnerable to stoats and are relatively poor … Continue reading Poor fliers reluctant to cross water

Everyday life goes ‘wild’ in Newtown

Andrew Roxburgh reckons the Newtown area of Wellington where he lives is becoming a more wild place – “and that’s pretty cool!” Andrew is a volunteer with Predator Free Mt Cook/Newtown/Berhampore and says that as birds are spreading out from Zealandia, people are becoming more aware of them. They’re noticing native birds more. “Kaka are … Continue reading Everyday life goes ‘wild’ in Newtown

Rat poisons and human medicines have natural links

Like many modern-day medicines, rodenticides are often derived from natural sources. Plants may evolve toxic chemicals to protect them from grazers for example, and sometimes all that distinguishes a beneficial drug from a toxic poison is the dosage. In a recent issue of the NZ Journal of Zoology, Charles Eason, ecologist with Lincoln University (Lincoln) … Continue reading Rat poisons and human medicines have natural links

Increasing biodiversity is a priority at Craigmore Station

Every year David Bielski, manager of Craigmore Station in South Canterbury, plans to spend $50,000 of the station’s budget on fencing, planting trees and labour to increase biodiversity on the property. An impressive 51 hectares of land already consists of native plant species and is under various QE II covenants and game keeper John Brownley … Continue reading Increasing biodiversity is a priority at Craigmore Station

Phill Waddington – Wildlife artist and DOC Series trap inventor

Not long ago, a door-knocking volunteer from a community trapping group offered to lend Phill Waddington a DOC 200 trap to put in his back yard. What the volunteer didn’t realise – and probably most New Zealanders don’t know – is that Phill Waddington, Hutt Valley wildlife artist, actually invented the DOC Series of humane … Continue reading Phill Waddington – Wildlife artist and DOC Series trap inventor

Rotokare Scenic Reserve valued and thriving once more

Rotokare Scenic Reserve, near Eltham in South Taranaki is a stunning reserve of mature native bush, wetlands and a 17.8hectare natural lake that was first gazetted as a reserve in the late 19th Century. But by the beginning of the 21st Century the area was in visible decline and that in turn, influenced some people’s … Continue reading Rotokare Scenic Reserve valued and thriving once more

McGillivrays’ orchard is ‘rat farm’ no longer

When Wilson and Barbara McGillivray announced to friends that they were buying an avocado orchard, the response from one friend was less than enthusiastic. “He said ‘So you’re going to live on a rat farm!’” recalls Wilson. “Rats love avocados.” Undaunted, the McGillivrays went ahead anyway and bought Awatea Orchard in Katikati. Having previously lived … Continue reading McGillivrays’ orchard is ‘rat farm’ no longer

Twelve more Kiwibank Predator Free Communities announced…

From Auckland to Arrowtown and an assortment of towns and suburbs in between – the successful applicants for Round 3 of Kiwibank Predator Free Communities have just been announced. Every winner has a different story, but the 12 successful community groups all have something in common: a determination to free their community of predators and … Continue reading Twelve more Kiwibank Predator Free Communities announced…

Investigating a rat’s ‘landscape of fear’

Cats and dogs are both predators of rats – but to what extent is the presence of cats and/or dogs a deterrent to rodents? How do you even measure how ‘nervous’ a rat feels? Scientists in far-off Swaziland used some interesting techniques to determine how uneasy rats felt in the presence of their natural predators. … Continue reading Investigating a rat’s ‘landscape of fear’

Eradication – what about the social impacts?

Predator Free Great Barrier or Stewart Island? It’s already technically feasible. But is it socially feasible? When it comes to complete eradication of predators on inhabited islands there’s a lot more to consider than just the conservation benefits and technical aspects. People, their livestock, their pets and their lifestyle are all going to be impacted. … Continue reading Eradication – what about the social impacts?

Small Ōhiwa community are big supporters of predator control

When Ōhiwa resident Andrew Glaser pitched the concept of a management group to coordinate protection efforts on and around the Ōhiwa Headland, the community immediately liked the idea. Andrew found out just how much they liked the idea not long afterwards, when he was walking his dog one evening. The conversation went something like this: … Continue reading Small Ōhiwa community are big supporters of predator control

Ambitious plans for Grid-i detector

Gerald Dickinson has a busy year ahead. He’s just won a WWF Innovation Award for his Grid-i pest-detection development project and is aiming to have commercial units available by December 2018. It is – he freely admits – an ambitious timeline. “The Innovation Award is a huge boost,” Gerald says. “The various hardware components are … Continue reading Ambitious plans for Grid-i detector

Trap and Trigger takes out Innovation Award

Jordan and Mikayla Munn are recent winners of $25,000 in the WWF 2017 Innovation Awards with their venture to use top-of-the-line, military quality, thermal imaging technology to detect and help in the removal of invasive animals. ‘Trap and Trigger Ltd’, the young couple’s conservation and wildlife management company, has already invested hugely in the technology … Continue reading Trap and Trigger takes out Innovation Award

Volunteers are vital at Orokonui

A dedicated team of volunteers contribute an impressive 13,000 hours of work each year to Orokonui Ecosanctuary, just north of Dunedin. “Our volunteers help with every single thing we do,” says Orokonui’s general manager, Chris Baillie. “They have a very strong sense of community ownership of the Ecosanctuary. Volunteers are rostered to come on certain … Continue reading Volunteers are vital at Orokonui

Tools for a predator-free future

The technology associated with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is getting smart and sophisticated. These intriguing little machines are more than just Christmas toys. High-end models are proving their worth in a whole variety of ways including detecting water deficiencies in agricultural crops and mapping invasive species. They’re even being trialled as a delivery method by … Continue reading Tools for a predator-free future

App launch tops successful year for Squawk Squad

A while back the Squawk Squad team were thinking about how they could get people more interested in birds in the lead-up to the December launch of their Squawk Squad app. Conservation Week in October seemed like an ideal opportunity just waiting to be grabbed. “We were thinking about how we could blow it up and … Continue reading App launch tops successful year for Squawk Squad

Thesis explores anti-predator adaptive behaviour

When mammal predators first arrived in Aotearoa/New Zealand, our native species didn’t know what had hit them and their naiveté led to some rapid extinctions. Have our surviving species ‘wised up’ to mammal threats in the last century or so? If so, what happens when birds are moved to predator free islands or are protected … Continue reading Thesis explores anti-predator adaptive behaviour

Detecting predators in the city – what works best?

Tracking tunnels, chew cards and WaxTags© are commonly used to detect predator presence and monitor abundance, but in recent years there’s been a new tool in the conservation kit – the remote camera. Evaluations of its use are showing that it is a tool with a lot of promise and some significant advantages over traditional … Continue reading Detecting predators in the city – what works best?

Bush savvy volunteers have ‘a bit of a scramble’

Field co-ordinator, John Caygill reckons it’s “a bit of a scramble” checking the traplines on the Rainy Creek Project, “And on some lines there’s a lot of scramble!” he says. Rainy Creek is situated just east of Reefton, on the South Island’s West Coast. John himself lives in Greymouth, an hour’s drive away, but comes … Continue reading Bush savvy volunteers have ‘a bit of a scramble’

Takahe protection benefits the neighbours

How much trapping does it take to make a difference? Sometimes even a small difference can make all the difference to a species that is at a borderline point for sustaining its population. In a recent edition of the New Zealand Ornithological Society’s journal Notornis, DOC scientists Jane Tansell, Hannah Edmonds and Hugh Robertson reported … Continue reading Takahe protection benefits the neighbours

Sanctuary raises profile of endemic lizards

In Central Otago the locals are becoming increasingly proud of their giant lizards. “Reptiles are our megafauna,” says Grant Norbury, a Landcare Research scientist based in Alexandra and chair of the Central Otago Ecological Trust, which created a small fenced sanctuary and released the first rare lizards there back in 2009. But the reptiles weren’t … Continue reading Sanctuary raises profile of endemic lizards

Urban possums – it’s not just about the roses

When possums live in an urban landscape, their fondness for fruit, flowers and foliage quickly makes then unpopular with gardeners. They can be noisy on the roof at night too. But the impact they’re having on local birdlife may not be quite so obvious. Well fed on apples and roses, urban possums may or may … Continue reading Urban possums – it’s not just about the roses

Urban kaka – how are they adapting to city life?

As kaka become a more familiar part of everyday suburban lives in some parts of New Zealand, the city-living parrots are also attracting the attention of researchers interested in the parrot/urban mix. How well are urban kaka learning to adapt to city life and what might be some city threats that they face? Researchers from … Continue reading Urban kaka – how are they adapting to city life?

Rat bait resistance – should we be worried?

Anticoagulant poisons are commonly used to kill rats in New Zealand and around the world. But at least 18 countries in Europe, America and Asia have reported growing resistance in their rat populations to these poisons. Are our rats growing bait-resistant too? Phil Cowan et al from Landcare Research investigated. “Rats, except kiore, are currently … Continue reading Rat bait resistance – should we be worried?

Narrow escape makes horror reading

It could have been so much worse… red foxes, Patagonian foxes, mongooses (or should that be mongeese?) – even badgers were proposed as a solution to New Zealand’s rampant rabbit problem back in the late 1800s. One entrepreneur actually thought burrowing owls might sort the rabbits out. Prof Carolyn King from Waikato University uncovered some … Continue reading Narrow escape makes horror reading

Curious Minds project lets kids keep tabs on their tabbies

The secret lives of Taranaki’s pet cats are currently being revealed – thanks to project funding from Curious Minds which has enabled the purchase of 60 cat harnesses fitted with GPS tracking devices. If you live in Taranaki and you’ve always wondered where your cat goes when it’s not at home, now is your chance … Continue reading Curious Minds project lets kids keep tabs on their tabbies