Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Rare and endangered birds are already returning to the now pest-free islands of Ipipiri (Eastern Bay of Islands) following Project Island Song pest control operations.

Date:  27 April 2010

Rare and endangered birds are already returning to the now pest-free islands of Ipipiri (Eastern Bay of Islands).

“It’s a great sign,” says Adrian Walker, Biodiversity Manager, Bay of Islands DOC. “Banded rail and kukupa (NZ wood pigeon) have been seen on Motuarohia/Roberton Island. The first time in 30 years for the kukupa! A flock of more than 20 NZ dotterel have also been sighted at Otehei Bay (Urupukapuka Island). Native plant life is starting to recover as well. Now that the rats are gone, the coprosma seeds are not being eaten and there are carpets of seedlings shooting up under the canopy.”

"This is great news," says Fleur Corbett (Chair – Guardians of the Bay of Islands Trust). “It looks as if the pest control efforts on the mainland of Te Rawhiti Enterprises, the local hapu at Te Rawhiti and the Eastern Bay of Islands Preservation Society, are helping keep the rats from swimming across to the islands. But we can’t afford to be complacent, as three Norway rats were caught on Urupukapuka Island between December 2009 and April 2010.”

“This summer was the first real test of how well our biosecurity work on Project Island Song has gone. With hundreds of campers and thousands of boaties enjoying Ipipiri in the Eastern Bay of Islands – there is great potential to bring rats back. We knew the risk that rodents would turn up. What’s great is that the community helped catch them,” says Fleur.

DNA analysis by the University of Auckland showed conclusively that the first rat was not a survivor of the eradication operation undertaken by DOC in 2009. “It is most likely that it was transported by boat from somewhere further away than the Te Rawhiti mainland,” says Rachel Fewster from the University’s Statistics Department.

“Our rodent invasion project is aimed at assisting island restoration projects around NZ by analyzing rat DNA to determine how rats arrive on islands. It is most useful to know that these animals are likely to have arrived by boat” says Rachel.

The first rat crawled under a tent groundsheet during the night and was stood on by a surprised camper when they got up in the morning.

The second rat, also caught in Urupukapuka Bay in a trap left set by a camper, was too decomposed to undergo DNA testing.

The third rat was caught in Otehei Bay in a DOC trap and reported by a young visitor.

According to Angela Newport, DOC Biosecurity Ranger, “as soon as we confirmed rats had been caught we set up extra traps and tracking tunnels at each sighting point. These have been checked weekly since January with and it looks like we’ll need more traps set at these arrival points each summer.”

Angela stresses the importance of island users being extra vigilant: “Rodents can find their way to the islands in ANY material that is transported there; this includes tents, bags, grocery shopping, metal, timber, machinery, umbrellas, etc.  Please be responsible by checking your gear and boats before leaving - your help will keep the islands pest free and don’t be scared to report a sighting!”

Report rodent droppings, tracks or sightings

Please contact DOC Bay of Islands if you see any rodent droppings or tracks while you are on the islands of Ipipiri.

During office hours:

Pewhairangi / Bay of Islands Office
Phone:   +64 9 407 0300
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   34 Landing Road
Kerikeri 0230
Postal Address:   PO Box 128
Kerikeri 0245

Afterhours: 0800 DOCHOT (0800 362468)

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