Sixteen juvenile takahē have been released into an extensively trapped area in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland National Park.
This is the largest release of juvenile birds into the Murchison Mountains.
The birds, raised at the Burwood Bush Rearing Unit near Te Anau, are the first to be introduced into the mountains following the establishment of the extended trapping programme in 2008.
At nearly 60,000 hectares it’s the country’s largest stoat control programme, covering the entire area of the Murchison Mountains Special Takahē Area – home to the critically endangered takahē.
Department of Conservation (DOC) takahē recovery ranger Glen Greaves said not only are takahē benefiting from the increased protection provided by the 1630 traps but so are other species vulnerable to stoat predation like kiwi and the whio/blue duck.
Mr Greaves said a 07/08 monitoring survey highlighted how effective stoat control is in the mountains.
“During last season’s stoat plague the number of takahē outside the trapped area dropped 60 percent compared to a four percent decline within the trapped area.”
He said the extended trapped area will also have a positive impact on the takahē breeding season.
While it was going to be a late breeding season due to the cold spring weather the volume of food available in the Murchison Mountains was encouraging.
“There were a lot of single birds in the population following the 2007/08 decline. Most now appear to have found a new mate, and the habitat is in pristine condition due to intensive deer control, so it looks like it will be a really good breeding season.”
New Zealand’s total takahē population nearly hit 300 in 2008, but soaring stoat numbers in the Murchison Mountains saw that number fall to about 230. It is estimated that there are about 100 birds in the mountains with the remainder on five pest free islands.
- Five of the birds released came from offshore islands, the other 11 came from the Burwood Bush Rearing Unit.
- The juvenile birds will pair up and begin nesting in two to three years.
- The rearing facilities at Burwood were recently modernised and extended with sponsorship funds received by Mitre 10 - making the rearing of 16 juveniles, possible.
- It is estimated there are only 230 takahē in existence.
- The takahē is a flightless bird.
- It was once thought to be extinct until 1948 when a few pairs were found in the Murchison Mountains, Fiordland National Park.
- Destruction of habitat by deer and predation by stoats are two of the greatest threats to takahē.
- Stoats kill adult takahē as well as eating chicks and eggs.
- As the takahē population increases so does the chances of seeing birds outside the Murchison Mountains Special Takahē Area.
- Stoat control, initially covering about a third of the Murchison Mountains Special Takahē Area, was set up in 2002 to test its effectiveness..
- The Mitre 10 Takahē Rescue sponsorship has been running for nearly five years.