Close up of petrel on grass

Colin Miskelly investigates seabird mysteries

Colin Miskelly is hoping to solve a mystery one day – to find where grey-backed storm petrels breed. They’re one of the smallest seabirds in the New Zealand region and there’s a very good chance they have a colony somewhere in the lower South Island. According to Birds New Zealand, there is a long history … Continue reading Colin Miskelly investigates seabird mysteries

Karen Schumacher releases a kokako.

A salute to our conservation heroines

Conservation heroines – they’re all around us… everyday people like your neighbour, your Mum, your friend, or that clever inventor who lives at the end of your street. Conservation heroines are women who are using their passion, skills and talents to help our endangered wildlife to survive and thrive in our neighbourhoods and in the … Continue reading A salute to our conservation heroines

Burning questions, conservation conundrums – kiwi researchers share insights on key research challenges

What don’t we know? What challenges need further investigation? In January of this year, Predator Free 2050 Ltd announced two funding initiatives – one for doctorate and post-doctorate research at tertiary and research institutions and the other for ‘Products to Projects’, where the aim is to ‘help fast track the design, research and development, testing, … Continue reading Burning questions, conservation conundrums – kiwi researchers share insights on key research challenges

A possum and rat interacting with bait station

Dave Edwards aims to make Sentinel possum traps more user friendly

Traps need a powerful spring mechanism to kill humanely and that can make them difficult and a bit daunting to set, especially traps designed for larger pests and predators like possums and ferrets. Dave Edwards is a retired engineer, long-time community trapper (for Bay of Plenty kiwi and kōkako groups) and an innovative investigator. After … Continue reading Dave Edwards aims to make Sentinel possum traps more user friendly

No easy answers, but eradication efforts ongoing for Resolution Island

When the Resolution Island Stoat Eradication Programme began in Dusky Sound, Fiordland in 2008 no-one said it would be easy and, 12 years later there are still stoats on Resolution. But Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger, Peter McMurtrie, won’t be giving up any time soon. “There are two issues, Pete explains. “Firstly, there are some … Continue reading No easy answers, but eradication efforts ongoing for Resolution Island

Lockdown project reveals abundance of backyard birds

Have you got a resident fantail that hangs out in your garden? Are you sure there’s just the one? When Auckland University’s Dr James Russell banded the birds in his home garden he was amazed to find his ‘resident pīwakawaka’ was actually 36 different fantails all visiting his garden at different times. It all began … Continue reading Lockdown project reveals abundance of backyard birds

A close up image of a tūī

Alert Level 3 —what you can and can’t do

Most recently updated 12pm 28 April We are now in Level 3. We know a number of you are looking forward to getting back to your projects and checking and rebaiting your traps and bait stations. We’ve been trying to get the most up to date information so you can be clear on what you … Continue reading Alert Level 3 —what you can and can’t do

Tīeke – legendary teller of fortunes and guardian of treasure

Tīeke have a legendary reputation as guardians, weather-predictors, fortune-tellers and guides, although their saddle-like markings are said to be a sign that they once displeased Māui-pōtiki and were marked when he grabbed them with a hot hand and singed their feathers. Long ago, when tīeke (saddlebacks) were common, they often followed large flocks of whiteheads … Continue reading Tīeke – legendary teller of fortunes and guardian of treasure

Predator control — what you can and can’t do right now

Many of you may be wondering what you can and can’t do to protect our native wildlife throughout the lockdown period. So we thought we would summarise this for you. For up to date information on the COVID-19 response see the Government website. If you are involved in backyard or community trapping while NZ is … Continue reading Predator control — what you can and can’t do right now

Rat eradication breakthrough — Breaksea Island 1988

Breaksea Island is a 170 hectare, steep, windswept rugged lump of rock located about 2km off the coast of southwest Fiordland and in 1988 it was the scene of a significant step forward in the techniques of island predator eradications. We now almost take island predator eradications for granted. Back in the 70s, however, getting … Continue reading Rat eradication breakthrough — Breaksea Island 1988

EcoGene® team share wildlife forensic expertise

Hester is a senior molecular technician at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, specialising in Ecological Genetics with a focus on Wildlife Forensics. When she’s feeling whimsical, she likes to describe her work as ‘CSI: Wildlife’. If, for example, protected species are being killed and the predator responsible needs to be identified, then Hester can help. … Continue reading EcoGene® team share wildlife forensic expertise

Elwyn Welch – a man, his bantams and a tale of takahē

Elwyn Welch was a Wairarapa farmer who loved birds. Most people have probably never heard of him, but back in the 1950s, he and his specially trained bantam hens had a vital role to play in the conservation and breeding of the recently rediscovered takahē. Elwyn and the bantams were recruited for a top-secret mission … Continue reading Elwyn Welch – a man, his bantams and a tale of takahē

Robin perched on a branch

Remembering Don Merton and a bird called ‘Old Blue’

Don Merton (1939-2011) was a passionate pioneer in the conservation of endangered birds. His work was recognised world-wide and for 30 years he worked with the kakapo recovery programme. But there was another, even rarer bird that he and his team brought back from the very brink of extinction – the Chatham Island black robin. … Continue reading Remembering Don Merton and a bird called ‘Old Blue’

New book tells story of ‘Disaster on Four Small Paws’

Dr Carolyn King has spent a lifetime studying New Zealand’s introduced mammalian predators and is recognised as an international expert on mustelids. Meticulous historical and scientific research, along with a lifetime of practical field experience come together in her latest book, Invasive Predators in New Zealand: Disaster on Four Small Paws, just published and available … Continue reading New book tells story of ‘Disaster on Four Small Paws’

Hot News from the Cold South: An update on Maukahuka Pest Free Auckland Island

As 2019 ends, so does the feasibility stage of the Maukahuka Pest Free Auckland Island project. This ambitious project proposes to eradicate pigs, mice and cats from Auckland Island (46,000 ha), the largest island in New Zealand’s World Heritage listed Subantarctic region. This is a significant project for Predator Free 2050 and success would complete … Continue reading Hot News from the Cold South: An update on Maukahuka Pest Free Auckland Island

Lance Richdale – first protector of albatross at Taiaroa Head

The world’s only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross – at Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula – might not exist at all if it weren’t for one man. His name was Lance Richdale. From 1928-1959 Lance Richdale was an agriculture/nature study instructor with the Otago Education Board, visiting schools across Otago to inspire … Continue reading Lance Richdale – first protector of albatross at Taiaroa Head

EnviroMate100 bait station delivers time-controlled ‘dinner dishes’

Shane Hyde of Kaeo (Whangarei) left school at 16 and spent years working on predator control and weed control projects, but ill health in 2006, after spraying herbicides, forced him to rethink how he approached the physically demanding outdoor work. The next few years weren’t easy – but ultimately those challenges inspired Shane’s development of … Continue reading EnviroMate100 bait station delivers time-controlled ‘dinner dishes’

Bait station modification baffles bait-stealing possums

For community groups carrying out predator control it can be a real struggle to get rat numbers down to a level that allows small native birds to successfully breed in spring. One frustrating issue can be possums cleaning out the bait in your bait stations before the rats get to it, meaning large amounts of … Continue reading Bait station modification baffles bait-stealing possums

The results are in: Where to next for Pest Free Auckland Island?

Four months on from the first boat leaving for Auckland Island, all the field teams are home safely for the winter. A whirlwind summer has seen great gains in knowledge about the island and has given valuable insights into how the ambitious plan to remove pigs, cats and mice might work. Field trials to inform … Continue reading The results are in: Where to next for Pest Free Auckland Island?

PekaPeka bird feeder is a winner for its Dunedin designers

Harvey Penfold is a product design student, in his final year at Otago Polytech, Tahu Mackenzie is LEOTC (Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom) Education Officer at Orokonui Ecosanctuary just north of Dunedin and together they’ve designed an innovative bird-feeder. The PekaPeka was designed and tested as part of a Citizen Science project that is ongoing … Continue reading PekaPeka bird feeder is a winner for its Dunedin designers

Trials test feasibility of removing pigs, cats and mice from Auckland Island

Trials are in full swing down in the Southern Ocean exploring whether it’s possible to rid Auckland Island of its three remaining introduced predators – pigs, cats and mice. Following the successful eradication of mice from Antipodes Island, the Department of Conservation has turned its attention to the last island within the New Zealand Subantarctic … Continue reading Trials test feasibility of removing pigs, cats and mice from Auckland Island

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

‘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

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

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

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

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

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

Predator proof nestboxes more than a pipe dream

Kathryn Marshall, helped by a team of Waimea Menz Shed volunteers, with some expert advice from ornithologist Peter Gaze, has designed and tested predator proof nest boxes for kakariki (parakeets) – and it all came about because she wanted to help another rare bird, the mohua (yellowhead). But before kakariki, before mohua even – it … Continue reading Predator proof nestboxes more than a pipe dream

Robot in garage assembles Econode circuit boards

Behind the doors of ordinary Kiwi garages, some astonishing things are happening. Take, for example, a garage somewhere in the suburbs of Upper Hutt, where a robot is currently assembling circuit boards for the Econode designed remote trap sensor devices. Hard to believe – then check out the video of the high-precision robot at work. … Continue reading Robot in garage assembles Econode circuit boards

Al Glen captures predator portraits on camera

Monitoring cryptic animals is one of the big challenges of becoming predator free, according to Auckland-based Landcare Research scientist, Dr Al Glen. “Predators are cryptic,” he says, “and when they’re in low abundance, it’s very hard to detect the last few. Better monitoring is a priority.” Al’s recent research has involved both motion-triggered camera traps … Continue reading Al Glen captures predator portraits on camera

Stoat research is not for the squeamish

WARNING: [stomach] contents may disturb sensitive readers. When Jamie McAulay opens his mail in the morning he often finds “a lovely, delightful, maggoty mess!” Jamie is a Masters student in the University of Otago’s Zoology Department and lately conservation volunteers and professional trappers from Nelson to Fiordland have been posting him their dead stoats. ‘How … Continue reading Stoat research is not for the squeamish

Open Source is key to bringing back the cacophony

Early New Zealand was noisy. Cook and his crew experienced a ‘cacophony of sound’ on their first voyage. It’s that loud, raucous, exuberance which Banks Peninsula engineer and inventor Grant Ryan is aiming to restore through an open source technology project he has initiated. “There are two key defining features about the Cacophony Project that make … Continue reading Open Source is key to bringing back the cacophony

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

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?

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

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

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