Omaha community is looking out for its dotterels

Fondly referred to by some as “Dots’, New Zealand dotterels are appealing little shore birds, their sharp ‘cheep’ call signalling their constant alertness to possible danger. They need to be watchful. Dotterels nest on the ground, where the camouflage of their colouring gives some protection against aerial predators but not against mammals. Camouflage isn’t much … Continue reading Omaha community is looking out for its dotterels

Science can break your heart…

Back in the 1990s, Kaharoa Forest near Rotorua was one of three forests involved in an 8-year ‘Research by Management’ project to discover why kokako populations were still declining even though large-scale forest clearance had stopped. Competition for food by possums and introduced predators like ship rats were suspected as the cause. Carmel Richardson had … Continue reading Science can break your heart…

Award recognises huge efforts of tiny Arthur’s Pass community

Arthur’s Pass Wildlife Trust (APWT) doesn’t have a huge population to call on for its conservation work. There are only about 30 people living permanently in Arthur’s Pass village. But that hasn’t stopped them taking action to sort out the stoats that threatened their kea and great spotted kiwi – and now they’re celebrating a … Continue reading Award recognises huge efforts of tiny Arthur’s Pass community

Mentor’s advice still relevant for Craig Gillies

When Craig Gillies from DOC’s Hamilton office first started studying feral cats at the University of Auckland, he visited Department of Conservation ‘old hand’ Dick Veitch – since retired – who gave him a piece of advice that has stuck with him throughout his conservation career: “It’s not the ones you catch that matter,” said Dick, … Continue reading Mentor’s advice still relevant for Craig Gillies

Prof Carolyn King is enthusiastic supporter of community efforts

Professor Carolyn (Kim) King has spent a lifetime studying New Zealand’s introduced mammalian predators and is recognised as an international expert on mustelids. She’s worked closely with weasels in England, and stoats, ferrets, and rats in New Zealand, since starting as a grad student at Oxford in 1967. In that time she’s got to know … Continue reading Prof Carolyn King is enthusiastic supporter of community efforts

NZ tracking technology goes global

In the small urban satellite town of Mosgiel, just down the motorway from Dunedin, you’ll find the home base of a GPS system called ‘TracMap’. True to the tradition of kiwi innovation, it is an invention that started small and has gone on to revolutionize predator eradication on islands and difficult landscapes around the world. … Continue reading NZ tracking technology goes global

Old water reserve becomes ‘ark to the future’

In Nelson they’re building an ark to the future. The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary is at the site of a long-abandoned water reserve – a huge area comprised mainly of pristine old-growth forest. This ark for indigenous wildlife is 691 hectares in size, making it 2½ times the size of Zealandia or Orokonui. Like Wellington’s Zealandia … Continue reading Old water reserve becomes ‘ark to the future’

Rat plague threatens wetlands birds at Harbourview

Unbeknown to most Aucklanders, fernbirds and banded rails are living only 9km from their city centre. But Jeremy Painting has discovered that rats in ‘plague’ proportions are threatening nesting success. He tells his story… Although situated only 9km from downtown Auckland and tucked on the eastern side of the Te Atatu Peninsula, this reserve is relatively unknown … Continue reading Rat plague threatens wetlands birds at Harbourview

Tree traps – a good alternative?

By Bryce Buckland (Birdlife on Grampians, Nelson). Trapping groups like to know that their efforts achieve the best results protecting native birdlife. For smaller pests like rats, most groups use the standard box trap with a Victor Professional trap inside. You know what you catch, but tracking tunnels are the popular way to check what … Continue reading Tree traps – a good alternative?

Predator Free Wellington – the momentum gathers…

The momentum is growing and we’re super excited about it! Wellington has just announced its plans to be the world’s first predator-free capital. Go Wellington! The NEXT Foundation, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council are banding together to lead the initiative, but they won’t be doing it on their own. Success depends on … Continue reading Predator Free Wellington – the momentum gathers…

Goats, stoats and possum-fur coats: it’s carnage out there

Guest blog by Peter Heath It’s dead. Very dead, judging by the stench and the smooshed appearance of the remains – all fur, bones and black-brown gloopy stuff. A possum, maybe? A rabbit? “It’s not just townies,” Simon says, smiling at my obvious disgust. “There’s plenty of debate among farmers and bush dwellers, too. One … Continue reading Goats, stoats and possum-fur coats: it’s carnage out there

Grant Norbury – testing potential predator control techniques

A week or two ago, Alexandra-based Landcare Research scientist Grant Norbury found himself alone in the middle of the remote Mackenzie country, syringe in hand, squirting Vaseline onto rocks. He had to laugh. “It’s such a weird way to protect dotterels,” he says. Yes it is. But weirdness aside, the science behind his latest ‘chemical … Continue reading Grant Norbury – testing potential predator control techniques

Staunch penguins a match for stoats, but not dogs

Reuben Lane enjoys the staunch, feisty characters of the seabirds he’s helping to keep safe on the South Island’s West Coast – blue penguins, Fiordland crested penguins, petrels and fairy prions – they’re all birds with a bit of ‘attitude’. Based in Westport, Reuben moved to the Buller in 1998 to help Native Forest Action … Continue reading Staunch penguins a match for stoats, but not dogs

Kiwi are thriving – and so are kereru

The magnolias aren’t looking too good at Arthur Hinds’ place. His wife Diane used to complain about the damage possums were doing. But that’s not the problem nowadays. The Department of Conservation dealt to the possums in 2000, just before the Whenuakite Kiwi Care Group started their predator control programme. Arthur joined the Kiwi Care … Continue reading Kiwi are thriving – and so are kereru

Trust aims to be predator free from Glenorchy to the Sea

Formed in 2013, the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust (RDWT) is inspired by a vision of being predator free “from Glenorchy to the sea,” says trustee Amanda Hasselman. Working in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and the Hollyford Trust, with substantial sponsorship from Air New Zealand, the Trust aims to bring back the birdsong to … Continue reading Trust aims to be predator free from Glenorchy to the Sea

North Island robins are taking off at Puketoki

Puketoki Reserve is virgin low-altitude podocarp forest in the Whakamarama area (between Katikati and Tauranga). It was set aside for the people of the Tauranga region in 1928, by sawmilling firm Sharplin Brothers in a very early example of business conservation ethic. In recent times, the 40 Ha of virgin bush had become a haven … Continue reading North Island robins are taking off at Puketoki

Weta, wrens and other rare beasties

It’s not easy counting weta on a steep mountainside in the middle of the night. One of Colin O’Donnell’s main research interests is alpine fauna – rock wrens, weta, other alpine invertebrates and hardy, rock-basking lizards who manage to survive above the bushline. Weta are nocturnal, so after a day in the mountains collecting data … Continue reading Weta, wrens and other rare beasties

Phil Seddon – profiling predators in revealing detail

Professor Phil Seddon is Director of Otago University’s Postgraduate Wildlife Management Programme and has been involved in species restoration programmes around the world. He currently acts as an advisor on projects as diverse as saving critically endangered Bali starlings in Indonesia (the wild population dropped to a low of 15 in 1990), wild camels in … Continue reading Phil Seddon – profiling predators in revealing detail

Advocacy and active predator control on the Coromandel

When a small group of Coromandel locals got together in 2000, wanting to do something for the environment, they could little have imagined the sheer scale of conservation work being done by their members today. Sixteen years after the Moehau Environment Group (MEG) was first formed, the 100-strong group now works over a catchment area … Continue reading Advocacy and active predator control on the Coromandel

Secrets of Mangarakau Wetlands revealed

There’s something rather special about wetlands – and not just because they’re becoming increasingly rare. There is an air of secrets and mystery, of strangeness lurking just below the waterline. There is, for example, the mudfish. Mudfish are fish without scales that can survive without water – which makes for a very odd fish indeed. … Continue reading Secrets of Mangarakau Wetlands revealed

Local marae community inspires environmental change

Good things – even great things – can come from inauspicious-seeming beginnings. In 2010 a proposed new wastewater system got people worried in the small, remote East Coast settlement of Mahia, located on the Mahia Peninsula, between Napier and Gisborne. The effect of other land usage on water quality was also causing concern. The Whangawehi … Continue reading Local marae community inspires environmental change

Trelissick Park Group cares for idyllic wilderness area

It may well be Wellington’s best kept secret – an urban wilderness area where nationally threatened fish species thrive in a meandering stream and where possums were eradicated over a decade ago. An ongoing network of bait stations stops the possums from reinvading and keeps rat numbers down too. Not that the fish are particularly … Continue reading Trelissick Park Group cares for idyllic wilderness area

Kiwi Ranger keeps track of Great Spotted Kiwi

Jo Halley is sore – sore knees, sore feet and sore shoulders. She’s just back from several days of crawling through scrub in search of great spotted kiwi (roroa), then digging and crawling into muddy burrows to change the year-old batteries in their transmitters before they go flat. Evenings were spent listening for kiwi calls, … Continue reading Kiwi Ranger keeps track of Great Spotted Kiwi

BRaid comes to aid of ancient rivers and rare birdlife

The South Island’s stunning braided river systems have been formed over millions of years as clashing tectonic plates created mountains and glaciers and then high rainfall and melting snows washed away at the mountain rock, sweeping gravel down into the valleys and coastal plains. In between rainstorms and spring snow melts, the river flow reduced … Continue reading BRaid comes to aid of ancient rivers and rare birdlife

Making a Place for Penguins in the City

For a little penguin (until recently known as little blue penguin) in the city, the urban adventure includes a few extra hazards not encountered by their country-coastline relatives – including large steel-bodied predators super-fuelled by petroleum. If penguins have imaginations, then cars and trucks must seem like living nightmare monsters. But crossing a busy road … Continue reading Making a Place for Penguins in the City

Conservation groups team up to help Mt Aspiring kea

When it comes to clever, New Zealand’s alpine parrots are up there with the smartest crows, African Grey Parrots and even monkeys. Kea can problem-solve, use tools and do all the other things that show they’re among the world’s most intelligent non-humans. But, living above the treeline, they’ve evolved to nest among boulders and if … Continue reading Conservation groups team up to help Mt Aspiring kea

High tech, easy-to-use trap monitoring system saves money and time

Imagine being able to check the status of every trap in your trapping network on your cellphone over a morning coffee or on your laptop as you sit down to a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs. It has to be better than traipsing out to check every individual trap, over rugged terrain, in the … Continue reading High tech, easy-to-use trap monitoring system saves money and time

Coal Island – a southern sanctuary for rare species

In late 2015, 80 mohua were transferred from Chalky Island to Te Puka-Hereka/Coal Island in Fiordland National Park, the latest in a series of native bird transfers to the island. It was an exciting event for the South West New Zealand Endangered Species Charitable Trust (SWNZESCT), whose members had been working since 2004 to raise … Continue reading Coal Island – a southern sanctuary for rare species

Raw diet good for pet health and the environment

Possums, rabbits, hares, wallabies and goats are all on the menu at ‘Raw Essentials’, a pet-food company which strongly believes in feeding our carnivore pets a true carnivorous diet. If that diet includes meat, bone and organs from pest species which would otherwise go to waste, then so much the better for sustainability, the environment … Continue reading Raw diet good for pet health and the environment

New business venture finds growing market for possum meat

When it comes to possums, Zach Howarth believes in ‘utilising it all’. He’s about to sell his first shipment of possum meat to petfood manufacturer ‘Possyum’. Currently there’s a ½ tonne of possum meat sitting in Zach’s brand new chiller in Tahawai, a couple of kms up the road from Katikati. That’s 288 dead possums, … Continue reading New business venture finds growing market for possum meat

Art exhibition is latest initiative for Otago Peninsula group

An art exhibition is an unusual way to tackle introduced pests, but ‘Citizen Sci-Art’, on show at the Portobello Hall for the weekend 27-28 February, is the latest in many initiatives by the Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group (OPBG) and their supporters to get out and about and talking to their local community. Subtitled ‘from Stewart … Continue reading Art exhibition is latest initiative for Otago Peninsula group

Protecting the Wildside’s unique biodiversity

Marie Haley lives in her great grandmother’s house on the Banks Peninsula land that was first farmed by her French great-great-great grandfather. It’s on a part of Banks Peninsula known as the ‘Wildside’, named for its rugged landscape, dramatic cliffs and iconic species of birds, insects and plants – some of which are not found … Continue reading Protecting the Wildside’s unique biodiversity

Fernbirds flourishing at Sinclair Wetlands

Glen Riley, coordinator at Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau, Sinclair Wetlands, 40km south of Dunedin, has been talking with some members of the Ornithological Society recently. According to the ornithologists, spotless crake were seen at the wetlands 30 years ago, but have been rare ever since. That may have changed. Glen says crakes have been heard … Continue reading Fernbirds flourishing at Sinclair Wetlands

Adventure eco-tour company grows with forest

From the ziplines and swing bridges built high in the canopy of Rotorua’s Mamaku Forest there’s a phenomenal view of what a New Zealand forest looks like when it’s not full of possums and rats. There’s an abundance of green palatable species now that the hordes of grazers are gone. Gary Coker, conservation manager for … Continue reading Adventure eco-tour company grows with forest

Survey competition winners carry on Grandpa’s conservation work

Lamb prices are poor this season, there have been droughts in recent summers and another drought is forecast, but Otorohanga farming couple Jarrod and Danielle Hawkins were saying just before Christmas that if it did rain this summer then maybe they could buy some more kill traps for their QE II covenant block. They’re strongly … Continue reading Survey competition winners carry on Grandpa’s conservation work

Tough little duck has some hardy supporters

New Zealand’s whio or blue duck (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos to those with a fondness for Latin), likes nothing better than the turbulent white water of a fast-flowing mountain river. Its preferred habitat is so rugged that blue ducklings hatch with unusually large feet, even for ducks. Having big feet means they’re better able cope with the … Continue reading Tough little duck has some hardy supporters

Mind the Trap: Data Capture a Time-Saver on Great Barrier

Imagine this: you’re the new manager of Glenfern, a 260-hectare sanctuary on Great Barrier Island in Auckland. There are over 1,000 tunnels and bait stations to monitor, both inside and bordering the sanctuary. Would you head out for several hours at a time, clutching a waterproof notebook, and then return to manually enter any captures … Continue reading Mind the Trap: Data Capture a Time-Saver on Great Barrier

Ratatouille: Birkenhead’s Urban Rat Blitz

The suburb of Birkenhead sits on Auckland’s North Shore, with views across the Waitemata Harbour, thriving bush reserves, a bustling shopping village, and it’s just a few minutes’ drive over the Harbour Bridge to the central city. However, like many New Zealand neighbourhoods that border bushland reserves or waterways, there’s a bit of a rat … Continue reading Ratatouille: Birkenhead’s Urban Rat Blitz

A way forward for community led conservation by Julian Fitter

Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society (MOWS) was started in 2009 to help look after the colony of New Zealand Dotterel on Maketu Spit. This then quickly morphed into an ecological restoration project through a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP), funded by both councils and DOC, with MOWS providing the volunteer labour. This plan ends in June 2015 … Continue reading A way forward for community led conservation by Julian Fitter

Caught in a Trap: Halo Takes on Wellington’s Predators

Ever heard a possum lurking outside your bedroom window in the middle of the night, breathing heavily, or a rat’s tiny feet scuttling across the roof overhead? Neither experience is pleasant. Instead, imagine hearing native birdsong, a mini bird sanctuary of dawn chorus in your own back yard. Imagine a rat or possum trap feeling … Continue reading Caught in a Trap: Halo Takes on Wellington’s Predators

Going Native — Third Island rat catching with Goodnature by Paul Stanley Ward

I got a text from my mate Robbie, “Wanna come down Rakiura-Stewart Island and check some traps?” I’d never been to the ‘Third Island’, and had heard enough raves about backyard kaka and beaches chocka with kiwi to make my answer obvious. This bird nerd was raring for a range in Rakiura. Robbie is one … Continue reading Going Native — Third Island rat catching with Goodnature by Paul Stanley Ward