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DOC Threatened Species Ambassador Nicola Toki tells us about her threatened species work in Australia, helping scientists catch platypus and learning about maremma sheepdogs.

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The bush wren, laughing owl, and native thrush are all extinct.

Stoats are thought to have caused their demise—as well as the decline of many of New Zealand’s other indigenous bird species. They also feed heavily on our native reptiles and invertebrates.

The images below show the devastation that a stoat can wreck on our native species—in this case New Zealand’s smallest bird, the rifleman/titipounamu.

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DOC ranger, Anja McDonald, sent through these heartbreaking images.

They were taken at Tennyson Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds. She explains:

The male bird was in the nest when the stoat came and we don’t see any pictures of him coming out again. The rifleman mother then returns to her nest. The things in her beak are likely to be the remains of either her husband or her chicks.

When we climbed the tree later, to bring the camera in, there was only a female around, which suggests the stoat possibly ate both the adult male and the chicks.

A very sad end for these small birds, but a important reminder of the pest control work that needs to be done to protect our native species.

By Chrissy Wickes, Biodiversity Ranger, Te Anau

I recently spent seven days on the Fiordland coast, along with other DOC staff and a group of passionate volunteers, undertaking trapping work on Resolution Island, an offshore reserve for our native species.

A photo of the Dusky Sound area at dusk. Photo by Chrissy Wickes.

On dusk in the soft rain, classically Fiordland!

Resolution is a 21,000 hectare island with over 2300 traps, and 230 kilometres of tracks. It is named after Captain James Cook’s ship Resolution which landed in Dusky Sound during Cook’s Second Voyage in March 1773.

The week was spent checking stoat traps on various parts of the island.

One volunteer, Martin Sliva, recounts his experience:

Every day had its own highlights: On Wednesday after sunset I saw fernbirds in the tussock. On Thursday evening I saw the Southern Lights, with beams of light shining over the sky. Friday offered me coastal views. Saturday morning I spent checking traps and nailing heavy steel plates on the trap boxes to protect kea, while being watched by a falcon. Suddenly a robin flew by and the falcon tried to chase it without success. Then, a second robin arrived to argue with the first one over their territory. They did not care that above them sat the falcon, who was watching them quietly.

Of course the most important highlight for me was that, despite checking hundreds of traps, I didn’t catch any stoats. The absence of this public enemy number one for New Zealand birds is no doubt one of the reasons for the astounding bird life on the island.

Stoat trap on Resolution Island. Photo by Bruce Murray.

Stoat trap in the snow on Resolution Island

Bruce Murray and his daughter Lyndsay also volunteered to check some of the stoat traps for the week. They were situated a bit higher up on Resolution Island and got some beautiful photos amongst the snow.

Checking traps up high on Resolution Island. Photo by Bruce Murray.

Checking traps up high on Resolution Island

All up only 11 stoats were found in the traps during the trip, a great result!

The view from up high on Resolution Island. Photo by Bruce Murray.

What a view!

Stoat trapping on Resolution Island

Read more about the recent trip to Resolution Island from Martin Sliva on the Fiordland Restoration website.

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