A very large male Norway rat was caught and killed on Thursday 30 April 2014 on private land at the western end of pest-free Motuarohia / Roberton Island, in the eastern Bay of Islands.
Roberton Island is the western-most island of the pest-free archipelago making up Project Island Song.
DOC Conservation Services Ranger Andrew Blanshard says, "It was an enormous animal, more than 400 g. It was so large it couldn't get its body inside the trap tunnel."
DOC Bay of Islands rodent dog handlers Ang Newport with her dog Cody and Andrew Blanshard with his dog Tike with the giant rat trapped on Motuarohia / Roberton Island, Project Island Song
Andrew and his rodent dog, Tike, had been hunting this rat for four weeks. "It's a huge relief that it has been caught. Although we don't know for sure, we suspect that the rat swam from the nearby mainland – the Russell Peninsula."
According to Andrew, 35 rat traps in tunnels and 35 tracking cards also in tunnels, baited with peanut butter, were laid out. "Luckily, this rat liked the bait so we were able to lure him into a trap."
Andrew says, "Hongi Edwards, the property manager for the western end of Motuarohia / Roberton Island, has been a massive help on the ground, setting and re-baiting the traps and tracking cards. A huge thanks must also go to the landowners who allowed DOC open access to their properties, which led to the eventual capture of this animal."
Andrew says, "The high levels of rat traps will be sustained on Motuarohia/Roberton Island until the end of May 2014 as we need to be sure that the rat that has been caught is the only one on that island."
According to Andrew, this summer has been a really busy pest-catching season with another Norway rat caught on Urupukapuka Island in March and a further rat flushed from bushes in early February. There were also two possible mouse sightings on Urupukapuka in January and February 2014 and mouse tracks seen in early May. "The rapid response team are at this moment tracking a mouse on the Poroporo Islands, just off Urupukapuka Island."
Fleur Corbett, Guardians of the Bay of Islands Chair applauds DOC's efforts, "The Department's rapid pest incursion response team and their rodent dogs play an essential role in ensuring that these occasional pest incursions do not develop into resident populations. The latest mouse on Poroporo is unlikely to have swum there by itself, so we are asking everyone using a boat or kayak to check their vessel and gear especially carefully before leaving the mainland."
A biannual rodent dog check is carried out on the Project Island Song islands in May/June and September/October. An annual stoat dog check is also carried out.
Project Island Song is a partnership between Guardians of the Bay of Islands Trust, Te Rawhiti hapu (Ngati Kuta and Patu Keha) and DOC.
Eradication of rats, stoats and mice on Motuarohia, Moturua, Motukiekie, Urupukapuka, Waewaetoria, Poroporo and Okahu Islands was carried out by DOC Bay of Islands in June 2009.
You can get involved by
- sponsoring a rat trap (used in the mainland buffer zone)
- volunteering for the Project Island Song island weeding and planting days
- joining Project Island Song as a member
For more information contact:
Fleur Corbett, Chair
Phone: +64 9 407 6866
Visit the Project Island Song website
If you have land on the mainland and want to find out about ways you can help restore your own land and protect the islands at the same time, contact:
John Booth (Eastern Bay of Islands Preservation Society)
The eastern Bay of Islands' mainland has its own pest-controlled buffer zone - Projects Strip, Points, Rakau and Noose and Necklace.
Established in support of Project Island Song, the Mainland Buffer Zone not only reduces the chances of reinvasion of the islands of Ipipiri by stoats and rats, but also enhances local natural biodiversity. Local people are already experiencing the benefits seeing more bellbirds and increased numbers of tui in the buffer zone area.