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Boaties threatening pest-free islands with pets

Boaties have been caught bringing pets onto pest-free islands, such as Urupukapuka in the Bay of Islands

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An island-hopping stoat has wreaked havoc in Auckland’s pest free Hauraki Gulf, and left an impressive bill.

The seven month hunt to catch the predator – which killed kererū, pūkeko and kākāriki on Motukorea, Motutapu and Rangitoto – cost Auckland Council and the DOC $86,000 between them, Stuff reports.

DOC believes the stoat swam between islands, rather than hitching a ride with boats, but despite circumstantial evidence, the department cannot confirm they caught the culprit.

“DNA obtained on Motukorea was not of sufficient quality to be matched with the stoat trapped on Rangitoto,” senior ranger David Wilson said.

In related news, DOC is reportedly aghast at the amount of pets being taken to pest-free islands, RNZ reports.

Ranger Helen Ough Dealy said dogs, cats and other pets are often brought onto protected islands by boaties, particularly during summer. 

This includes a pet cat which fell overboard from a boat in the Bay of Islands and was not reported. It went on to live on pest-free Urupukapuka for over four months.

"The owners thought that it had drowned, and therefore it wasn't a problem as far as they were concerned. But it was an island which had tīeke, saddleback, which had just been reintroduced; they feed on the ground at times, they're not just up in the trees or flying, and so are very vulnerable,” Ough Dealy said.

Tramper stunned by bat encounters

A tramper has enjoyed not one, but two, rare encounters with long-tailed bats in the Richmond Ranges.

Shane Wright​ was tramping from Porters Creek Hut to Starveall Hut in December when he had two run-ins within one week with the rare mammals, Stuff reports.

The sightings were the first time the critically endangered bats have been seen in the area in a decade. 

“I’ve spent my life wanting to see a bat, I have seen them at a distance on Little Barrier Island, Hauturu...but never anything like a close encounter like I had on the Richmond Ranges,” Wright said.

Te Hoiere/Pelorus Bat Recovery Project manager Gillian Dennis​ said the lucky sightings were “pretty amazing”.

“Not many people have that experience, people get excited just picking them up on detectors let alone seeing them up close,” he said.

Post-pandemic bike boom not just a fad

New Zealand isn’t the only country experiencing a ‘bike boom’.

According to Outside magazine, bikes have been in short supply for months in the USA, and it looks like the trend may be here to stay,

Social-fitness platform Strava, which tracks users’ running and cycling routines – recorded some interesting trends in 2020, a year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic created a huge exercise boom in the U.S., with bikes at its center.” Joe Lindsey writes.

“We’ve been left wondering whether this was just another 2020 fad, or if it will lead to lasting change. 

“Strava’s report, and broad sales figures from the NPD Group, which tracks data across thousands of American bike shops, suggests an answer: cycling’s newfound popularity might endure.”

Read the full story here.

Fox River landfill to be removed

The infamous Fox River landfill, which leached tonnes of rubbish into the river during a March 2019 storm, will be dug up and removed, RNZ reports.

Rosco Contractors owner Rosco Moore said the company built a large wall around the dump to secure it a few months ago, and will now remove the retained rubbish.

"From Monday we will go in, move some of that rock wall, and start removing the 14,000 cubic metres of rubbish," he said.

It will be moved to a landfill in Hokitika, and the site will be re-filled and planted.