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Battle for our Birds sets its sights on Fiordland

Battle for our Birds will extend to Fiordland's Arthur Valley. Photo: Graham Dainty

DOC’s Battle for our Birds project is now getting underway in Fiordland.

The pest control programme, which involves a combination of aerial 1080 and predator traps, will commence in Arthur Valley in Fiordland NP, specifically targeting rats and stoats. DOC hopes to protect mohua/yellowhead, kaka, kea, whio/blue duck, Fiordland tokoeka kiwi and two bat species in the area.

The new initiative comes after a successful 2014-2016 Battle for our Birds project that spanned much of the South Island. DOC reports that 1080 treatment over that time helped boost whio numbers in Kahurangi NP, where only traps had been previously used to control stoats.

Aerial 1080 was also attributed to benefiting kea in Kahurangi; in areas where it was used, 27 percent of nests were successful in 2015, compared to only 2 percent of successful nests between 2009 and 2014. Researchers concluded that without the 1080 treatment, high stoat levels would have wiped out more nests.

DOC has identified five sites for the next round of the programme, which will include the areas of Upper Hollyford, Clinton, Cleddau and Murchison Mountains. In addition to aerial 1080, the programme includes an upgrade of the Murchison Mountains trapping network (50,000ha) to protect takahe. The new Fiordland sites are among 19 project sites nationwide.

“Research has shown that well-timed pest control improves the survival and breeding success of our most vulnerable native species,” DOC Te Anau operations manager Greg Lind said in a statement. “Without it our local populations of these species will further decline and we could lose them.”

The new operational areas will be designated with signs at the recreation entrances. The public are asked to be aware of where bait has been laid, not to touch any bait pellets, not eat any animals from the area, and not allow dogs to access animal carcasses from the treated area until all warning signs have been removed.