Date: 01 February 2013
With a vision to bringing back some of New Zealand's rare birds to the Milford Track Great Walk, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Air New Zealand have increased the effort to control introduced predators in the area.
The Milford Track travels from the head of Lake Te Anau through spectacular Fiordland scenery to arrive at Milford Sound, drawing both national and international visitors. Around 12,000 people walk this track each year.
While the scenery is spectacular along the Milford Track Great Walk, the birdlife is only a fragile remnant of what it once was. Introduced animals such as stoats, possums, and rats have caused many of the most vulnerable native species to decline in the area.
DOC ranger Shinji laying stoat traps in Milford Track area
DOC has been controlling stoats by trapping along the Milford Track since 1999. With the support of Air New Zealand, the density of stoat traps has been doubled over the past few months. Air New Zealand are also funding possum and rat control over an 800-hectare area, which will help protect small birds and vulnerable native plants.
"The more intensive predator control will allow vulnerable native species present like kiwi and whio to live safely in these valleys," says DOC Area Manager, Reg Kemper. "Over time, people walking the Milford Track should also have more opportunities to see birdlife while they are walking."
The work is part of a new conservation project with Air New Zealand and DOC working together to reinvigorate birdlife and natural values along DOC's Great Walk network. "It is essential that conservation work takes place in these remote but frequently visited areas" said Mr Kemper, "as well as benefiting our native flora and fauna. It gives visitors the opportunity to experience and appreciate wild New Zealand at its best".
The intensive predator control also means some of the species lost can be returned to the valleys along the Milford Track. In February this year, up to 70/brown teal/pāteke will be transferred into wetlands in the Arthur Valley. It is hoped that this project will eventually result in species such as the takahē living along the Milford Track, as they once used to.
DOC Biodiversity Ranger
Te Anau Area Office
Phone: +64 3 249 0213