Unique Birdlife Threatened

Stoat Danger confirmed on Kapiti Island

December 2, 2010

DOC has confirmed the stoat danger to Kapiti Island’s unique status as a pest-fee bird sanctuary.

A stoat’s DNA has just been found on faecal matter (scat) — and on  a dead parakeet/kakariki that was about three weeks old.

The dead bird and scat were found by mustelid detection dog Crete and his handler Scott Theobold last week.

Scott Theobald and Crete

The findings confirm last month’s sighting of a stoat by a Department of Conservation contractor.

And the evidence provides justification for increasing the trapping and searching effort, says DOC Kapiti Wellington Area threats ranger,Clint Purches.

‘Needle in a haystack situation?’

“Kapiti Island covers an area of almost 2000 hectares, so finding and killing the stoat is not going to be easy,” he says.

Another mustelid detection dog would be brought in next week to finish the job begun by Crete and Scott, before Crete fell and broke his leg, Mr Purches says.

“Any new scat samples found can also be tested to see whether it is different genetic material, and therefore determine whether there is more than one stoat present on the island”.

Mr Purches says Crete is recovering well and is expected to make a full recovery. The replacement dog, Koha, also a border terrier/fox terrier cross, and a handler are expected to stay on Kapiti Island for up to two weeks.

DOC adds:The impact of the stoat has highlighted the effort required to keep our off-shore islands predator-free.

Kapiti Island was declared free of introduced mammals in 1998 after many years spent eradicating goats, cats, deer, sheep, cattle, pigs, dogs, possums and rats. It is now home to some of the rarest wildlife in the country and one of the nation’s most important sites for bird recovery.

Find out more about Kapiti Island: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-visit/wellington/kapiti/kapiti-island-nature-reserve/

For more information please contact:  Clint Purches 04 296 1160 or 027 243 1218

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