Kakapo safe after Anchor Island rat poison accident

Reuben Williams —  29/06/2010

Hey peoples. I know many of you are concerned about the accidental bait drop on Anchor Island last week, but rest assured all is being done to ensure the safety of kakapo on the island.

If you haven’t heard, about 700kg of  brodifacoum laced bait being ferried by helicopter to Indian Island in Dusky Sound for a rat eradication programme was lost over Anchor Island on Thursday. A ground search indicated that the load landed in a lake on the island.

While 700kg seems like a lot, there was only 0.2% of poison per kg of bait. A large bird like a kakapo would have to eat about 20 pellets to get a toxic dose – even though they’re greedy buggers this is highly unlikely!

As a precaution, two kakapo in the area were moved to a nearby island and are being looked after by the Kakapo Recovery Team. These guys are top notch staff who are passionate and dedicated to kakapo. The birds could not be in better hands right now.

Anchor Island is also home to the endangered saddleback/tīeke and yellowhead/mohua but all seems to be well with these guys so far.

View from Anchor Island.

View from Anchor Island

What happened?

The cause of the incident is not yet known. It was a routine aerial eradication operation using a helicopter company with an impeccable safety record.

An investigation has been launched and we’re trying to work out what went wrong.

Preparing for an aerial pest operation.

Preparing for an aerial pest operation

What happens now?

The baiting operation has been postponed until all inquiries are complete.

There is no evidence of any impact on land, only in the lake. DOC is taking advice on the best way to deal with this. Water sampling is underway to assess any impact on the lake environment. The bait was largely insoluble and will break down slowly.

Aerial drops of this nature are needed because of the devastating impact introduced mammals like rats have on native birds.


4 responses to Kakapo safe after Anchor Island rat poison accident

    Melanie Charters 16/07/2010 at 6:30 pm

    Hi all,

    An update on Anchor Island – water quality monitoring results have shown no trace of the rat poison.


    DOC Web Team

    Steve Rusak 16/07/2010 at 1:47 pm

    Hi there~

    I was relieved to hear that the Kakapo from Anchor Island are safe after the poison spill. But isn’t DOC supposed to look after the health of the whole ecosystem and not just the welfare of a few species or individuals? From an ecosystem health point of view, it seems like the dangers of widespread poison use outweigh the benefits by far.



    Is the resulting investigation completed?

    This should never have happened and should not have been able to happen regardless of equipment failure

    Any news?

    If so where

      Melanie Charters 13/07/2010 at 10:20 am

      Hi Terry,

      Just heard back from the team down in Southland, and they said that the report on the investigation should be complete in the not too distant future.

      We will post more info as it becomes available.

      DOC Web Team