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Mustelid detective hound, Crete, and handler Scott Theobold, will be back on Kapiti Island this week. For the next half a year they’ll be there regularly, for up to a week at a time, to scope the joint for any more signs of stoat action. 

Kapiti Island and the Marine Reserve, as seen from the lookout Paekakariki Hill.

I myself, being an urban DOC-ette, have only seen a stoat once – it ran across the road in front of the family car on a Fiordland camping holiday. But I didn’t like the look of its face and am thrilled that, so far, no more signs of his kin have been found on Kapiti.  Have any of you guys seen stoats in the wild before?  

As for the famous stoat caught on Kapiti last year: We’ve found some scat since his capture, but DNA analysis has shown up inconclusive – we don’t know if it’s from our original guy or a  different one. We’ll have to wait and see whether Scott and Crete track down anything more on their future visits. 

Hamish Farrell with the dead stoat he found on Kapiti Island

So, while  all  may seem quiet on the stoat front at present, bio-security work continues. Along with checking traps and tracking tunnels every fortnight, and sniffer dogs and handlers doing their thing, there’s also track maintenance happening all over the island.

North Island Kaka, Kapiti Island

So, thanks to all involved in the work on Kapiti Island. Providing a threat free sanctuary for our treasured wildlife is wonderful – but it isn’t easy.

Stoat on a plate

Tessa Rain —  16/03/2011

The elusive Kapiti Island stoat has been caught. And it’s a… boy! While we can’t be sure this is the only stoat on the island yet, our man at the scene – DOC contractor Hamish Farrell – did do a dance of joy at the discovery.

Hamish Farrell with the dead stoat he found on Kapiti Island

The stoat had spent three months at large, and there were concerns that it would turn out to be a she – which, if pregnant, could have had even more dire implications for the wildlife on the magical island sanctuary. 

A most inventive method was used to lure the two-year-old stoat to its demise: bedding material from a female stoat was put in some of the 160 traps covering the island, sending a message of the possibility of luurve and resulting in the capture. 

DNA testing has confirmed its age and gender, and will hopefully soon tell us whether it’s the same varmint that left faeces behind for our stoat detection dogs to find last year. 

While we will continue monitoring and trapping work for some time yet, with $75,000 spent on the control programme to date, the discovery comes as a great relief to all who love the iconic nature reserve off our coast – and the endangered birds it protects. Stoats beware!