Stoat proofing baby kiwi is hard work. The recent stoat infiltration of the kiwi crèche on Rona Island reminds us that it’s not just a case of plonking the little ones on an island and going back for them in six months when they’re 500-600 grams heavier.
Thanks to the efforts of Pomona Island Charitable Trust the Haast tokoeka kiwi team can sleep at night knowing that the chicks they collected as eggs from the wild are safe.
The award-winning Trust works with DOC to restore Pomona and Rona islands in Lake Manapouri (Fiordland) and its volunteers regularly brave the elements to check and maintain stoat traps on the islands and the adjacent mainland.
In February Trustees John Whitehead, and Chris and Viv Shaw, were dismayed to find six stoats caught in the traps on Rona.
“It was devastating to catch so many stoats, especially as it was over five years since the last stoat had been trapped on Rona,” says Trust Chairman John Whitehead.
A lot of effort and money goes into getting the baby tokoeka from eggs in the kiwi sanctuary, via incubation and hatching at the West Coast Wildlife Centre (Franz Josef Waiau), to predator free crèche islands. We need to know they will be safe to grow big enough to defend themselves from stoats (about 1 kg). Fortunately Viv and Chris are very dedicated. They stepped up the trap checks and tracking tunnel monitoring to make sure all the stoats on the island had been caught.
With a little extra help from Crete the stoat dog and his handler, Scott Theobald, we were able to give the all clear at the end of April and the last two chicks – waiting in pre-release pens in Franz Josef Waiau – were dropped off on Rona.
A big thank you to the Pomona Island Trust for keeping our kiwi chicks safe!