From the rugged west coast beaches, to the majestic kauri forest and the picture-perfect white sand vistas, Northland is a draw card for nature and summer lovers. Wherever your Northland adventure may take you, follow these tips to help protect our taonga.Continue Reading...
Archives For Biosecurity
During Conservation Week we saw conservation dogs, Pai and Piri, make their TV début on Seven Sharp.Continue Reading...
By Denice Gillespie, Partnerships Ranger in Kaitaia
I recently visited the Shadehouse, a native plant nursery in Kerikeri, where I had the pleasure of meeting Roger a lizard enthusiast and member of Guardians of the Bay of Islands, a local group working on a diverse range of island restoration projects.
The Shadehouse nursery grows native plants for various community groups around the Bay of Islands. When the plants are ready at the nursery they are taken to whichever ecological district the seed came from and planted.
Potting mix which the Shadehouse uses on a regular basis has created the perfect breeding environment for rainbow skink, a pest species from Australia that competes with our native lizard species for food, habitat and space. Rainbow skinks are a threat to our invertebrates, ground nesting birds and other native lizard species. It also reproduces faster and in larger numbers than our native skinks.
Roger showed us various pit fall traps that he had set up around the Shadehouse as a biosecurity measure to trap these invasive pests.
The trap is made from a tin can placed inside of a hole with a piece of wood on top and is baited with cat food. The smooth tin walls make it difficult for rainbow skinks to escape but is friendly to our native species who are clever and can escape the traps.
The traps are checked on a regular basis and they are proving to be very effective at catching rainbow skinks.
If you wish to trap pest skinks seek some advice from your local DOC office to avoid accidental harm to our native species.
Thanks to Roger and the Shadehouse crew for a great day out in Kerikeri.
Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Today we profile Jak the conservation dog. Jak is retiring after giving 84 dog years of active service, conserving pest free islands and sanctuaries throughout New Zealand.
Some things I do in my job include:
Me and my handler, Fin Buchanan were one of the earliest teams targeting rodents in the Predator Dog Programme (now known as the Conservation Dogs Programme) for DOC.
Together we have worked on more than 30 pest free Islands and mainland sanctuaries to monitor for pesky mice and rats that threaten to invade. I spent my later years checking gear to help protect the pest free islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:
Making sure no hitch-hikers get a free ride to pest free islands in the Hauraki Gulf. I meet many travellers, contractors and school children while checking their gear and this helps raise awareness of the Treasure Islands biosecurity campaign.
The best bit about my job is:
Like I said to Fin in my exit interview; hunting. Oh, and I’m really going to miss the camaraderie of work colleagues, fans, family and tummy rubs!
The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… I’ve had quite a few awesome moments with DOC. One of my early journeys was to Campbell Island in the subantarctic region, joining a small human team to test whether the rodent eradication two years before had been successful.
I was also part of a trial by Landcare Research, with my colleague Occi and her human Miriam Ritchie, to determine how effective rodent dogs were at detecting a number of ‘hidden’ rodents at Maungatautari. The results found that us rodent dogs had more than an 80% chance of finding a rodent, if a rodent was present. It was great to show what a powerful tool we are for the protection of fauna and flora, and how we can save the tax payer lots of dollars!
The DOC employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:
My handler Fin. We’ve been a fully certified dog handler team since I was fourteen months old, and with him by my side, we’ve had many adventures and discoveries of the rodent persuasion over these past 13 years.
On a personal note…
Most people don’t know that:
I have become a bit of a celebrity over my working life and even appeared on TVNZ’s ‘Meet the Locals’.
My family ties include:
Jack the border terrier and Tui the fox terrier—and part of a long line of pups produced to serve in the name of conservation. My brother Tama worked on rabbits and rats on Macquarie Island and in Tasmania.
I still have an eye for the ladies and fathered a litter only a year ago, of which four of the pups are destined to follow in my paw-prints. I am leaving the good conservation work to the very able noses of my offspring Pai and Piri.
The song that always cheers me up is:
Elvis Presley, “Hound dog”.
My stomping ground is:
The Coromandel and Hauraki Gulf, but now that I’m retired, I’m moving to Beach Vets in Waihi Beach.
This ideal location will allow me to scout the beach for attractive bitches, have health-care on tap and hang out at the Waihi Beach Hotel—which incidentally has excellent cuisine and music for both (hu)man and dog. Visitors welcome!
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote is:
“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”
― Abraham Lincoln
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:
“Don’t scavenge, it makes you sick.”
In work and life I am motivated by:
Rats, mice, tucker, and balls ‘n’ sticks.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:
Check/clean your bags, gear and transport for notorious stowaways; seeds, soil, plague skinks, argentine ants and rodents so we don’t ‘truck’ them around the country with us.
Question of the week…
How are you finding retired life?
I’m loving it! I’ve slotted right in with my new family—Pip Jones at the Beach Vets—and spend my days between the vet clinic and the house.
I’ve been hanging out with Pip’s mum who is recovering from surgery and we have become firm friends. I also enjoy going to watch Cam, Pip’s son, play soccer—although I have to say my ball handling skills are far superior to the team!
I’ve had a few suspicious moments with Crusty the cat, but we’re getting on great now. I also met a very attractive female border terrier at the pub restaurant last Sunday. There could be a romance in the wind!
By Amy Brasch, Partnerships Ranger, Wellington
An island biosecurity hui was recently held on Matiu/Somes Island to review the best island biosecurity management practices, current biosecurity procedures, and to discuss methods for increasing awareness and participation.
Local iwi, DOC rangers, relevant community groups, island associates and media gathered on Matiu/Somes Island to review the importance of island biosecurity and discuss opportunities for strengthening procedures.
The hui was not only a great opportunity to hear biosecurity ideas and improve our practices, but also to share those ideas with our partners that help us care for these incredible islands. The reality is there will always be biosecurity risks to our islands.
DOC Island Services Rangers and other DOC staff work hard to keep these islands pest-free by putting considerable effort into removing and controlling pests and carrying out appropriate quarantine measures on islands.
Pest plants and animals can have detrimental effects on native biodiversity, so it was great to partner up with local iwi and businesses to figure out ways to keep pest animals and plants off the islands together.
A Mr S Claus has been detained after flying into New Zealand air space with undeclared animals, unwanted organisms and CITES listed threatened species.
The animals—nine reindeer—were impounded on arrival and Mr Claus has so far been unable to provide documentation to show that they have passed biosecurity clearances.
“This is a blatant breach of both CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and New Zealand’s biosecurity laws, ” says a senior DOC spokesperson.
“The contents of a bag have been found and appears to hold many personal items that Mr Claus insisted were gifts, and also contained a number of rare parrots from tropical countries. This could be a real feather in the cap for busting a bird smuggling ring“.
Mr Claus insisted he knew nothing of the parrots and was just asked to pass the plain brown wrappers onto someone else on the other side of the border.
The sledge that Mr Claus was riding is made from a rare hardwood from an un-sustainably managed rainforest. The wood is on the CITIES threatened species database of prohibited timbers. Exotic spiders were also found crawling under the vehicle; Claus claimed he hadn’t used it in nearly 12 months.
He was dressed in polar bear fur from his head to his foot and his clothes were tarnished with ashes and soot. His gumboots were covered in dirt and reindeer faeces which carried numerous diseases including didymo.
Furthermore, Claus was suspected to be under the influence of illegal drugs. His eyes were too twinkly, he was far too merry, his cheeks were too rosy, his nose like a cherry. The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke encircled his head like a wreath.
Project Island Song is on its way! Now that all the stoats and rats have gone from the eastern Bay’s islands, the Guardians of the Bay of Islands, a local community group, can get on with the job of planting trees and bringing back the birds.
Here I am (middle left) with Guardians of the Bay of Islands volunteers and families in front of the newly revamped Project Island Song Centre, in Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island.
Lots of hard work was done that weekend bringing light back to a cold grey building. The launch of the centre is today – just ahead of Conservation Week. Over a hundred people including kids from three local schools, kaumatua and kuia from the local community as well as DOC and ExploreNZ staff and others passionate about restoring the islands, will be helping to celebrate this occasion.
The Centre, staffed by Guardians volunteers, will be opening at Labour Weekend. So come and visit! But before you leave the mainland, you can do your bit to keep these islands pest-free – please stop, check your gear for pests (rats, mice, stoats, ants, weed seeds) and then go!
Want to know more about Project Island Song? Go to: