Date: 22 June 2009
The Department of Conservation has concluded the second of two aerial drops of rat poison in preparation for Project Island Song, a community-driven initiative to restore native birds and plants to the islands.
“We are very pleased that the operation went according to plan,” project organiser Adrian Walker said today. “The first drop was held on June 2 and conditions were again excellent for today’s drop.
Project Island Song is a shared vision to return native wildlife and plant life to Ipipiri. It is led by the Guardians of the Bay of Islands Inc, Patukeha and Ngati Kuta (resident hapu at Rawhiti) and DOC, with support from local landowners and tourism interests. The Guardians are also working with the Northland Regional Council, Eastern Bay of Islands Preservation Society, Te Rawhiti Enterprises Ltd and the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation on a complementary mainland pest control project.
The Guardians of the Bay of Islands and other members of the community have been a great help in protecting New Zealand Dotterels by removing bait from beaches, and helping to move Pateke (brown teal ducks) to the mainland.
The department will notify the public when the camp grounds are open again.
“In the meantime we have a comprehensive monitoring programme underway to analyse the effects of the operation so we can report the results back to the community and the Northland Regional Council,” said Mr Walker.
The chair of the Guardians of the Bay of Islands, Fleur Corbett, said the completion of the rat eradication was the first major step in Project Island Song becoming a reality.
“We now look forward to working together with the community to make sure the islands remain predator free - in particular checking day packs, camping gear and boats for unwelcome stowaways such as mice, rats or ants.” She added that the level of volunteer and community support for the project had been fantastic.
In order to protect NZ dotterels and with the help of the Guardians of the Bay of Islands bait was removed from beaches within hours of it being sown, therefore not allowing sand hoppers, which are dotterel food to access the bait.
Brown teal/pateke have been moved from Urupukapuka to the mainland.
Representatives from Patukeha and Ngati Kuta helped with the trapping and transportation of kiore (Pacific rats), which were given a new home in captivity at Nga Manu Nature Reserve at Waikanae.
“We only have one shot to get this right, and just one pregnant rat remaining on the islands could undermine the whole restoration effort. It is our policy to use brodifacoum - a very effective rat poison for one–off eradications of rodents on offshore islands,” says Mr Walker.
Ridding the islands of rodents will also enable future release of other endangered species to occur such as saddleback/tieke, bellbird/korimako, and kakariki long since gone from mainland Northland.
The Resource Consent issued by NRC requires extensive testing for residues in shellfish, soil, sediments, fresh water streams and seawater. No traces of brodifacoum have ever been detected in shellfish or fish species following aerial application of baits for rodent control on offshore islands. However, as a precaution the public are reminded that a rahui on the taking of shellfish from the waters around the islands is in place for 30 days after each application of bait.
All necessary steps were taken to protect water supplies e.g. roofs covered and all water collection systems disconnected prior to bait applications.
An island closure period of 48 hours is in place after each application of bait to ensure public safety while the aerial operations are underway. It’s more about keeping visitors safe from the helicopter operations than any real risk to people from the poison itself. The key rules to abide by to keep yourself and especially your children safe in any area where poison baits have been laid are, don’t touch baits, and watch children at all times.