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Fiordland stoat project has early success

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/03/2017

A pest eradication project in Fiordland could provide a breakthrough in how easily and efficiently predator-free island sanctuaries are created, the Department of Conservation says.

One day after a network of self-resetting traps targeting stoats was laid on Great Island, 17 of the animals had been killed.

DOC says that, based on average island data for stoat populations, up to 30 are estimated to live on the 736ha island in Chalky Inlet.

The project, a partnership between DOC and technology company Goodnature, is the first to attempt to eradicate stoats from an island using only a self-resetting trap network.

DOC says it took four volunteers four days to lay the portable traps, which can kill up to 24 times before needed to be reset.

Biodiversity principal ranger Lindsay Wilson says the project aims to remove stoats from Great Island and minimise future reinvasions.

He says islands outside the range of stoats, which have been known to swim up to 2km, can be kept permanently stoat-free.

But islands closer to the mainland, such as Great Island, are prone to reinvasions even if an initial eradication is successful.

Mr Wilson says maintaining zero or low stoat numbers means the islands can support endangered species such as kaka, tokoeka (kiwi) and Fiordland crested penguin.

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