The largest stoat trapping network undertaken by a private trust in New Zealand is about to be completed, enabling the reintroduction of birds like pateke and kakariki back to the Abel Tasman National Park.
The trapping network is being funded by Project Janszoon, a private trust working with the Department of Conservation to transform the ecology of the Abel Tasman National Park. When finished in February it will cover 15,000 of the Park’s 22,000 hectares, equivalent to 70% of the national park.
Project Janszoon Director Devon McLean says it is an important milestone for the Trust, which was launched two years ago.
“This is a permanent commitment to lowering stoat numbers in the Park over the long term. Bringing stoat numbers down significantly will make a big impact on birdlife and allow us to prepare for reintroduction of ground-nesting birds like pateke (brown teal) which are particularly vulnerable to stoat predation,” he says.
In time, Project Janszoon hopes pateke can be reintroduced at Awaroa, near where the Trust is replanting an ancient kahikatea forest.
DOC’s Chris Golding says the Department is excited that Project Janszoon is investing in the long-term control of predators.
“It opens up a range of options in terms of bringing back species that have been wiped out by predators or reduced to low numbers. If you have enough resources you can make a difference and this is a real chance to transform the ecology of the Abel Tasman National Park,” he says.
Mr Golding says installing the trapping network has had its challenges. “The interior is largely unmodified forest, difficult to access on foot, and there are very few landing sites for helicopters. Toby Reid from Reid Helicopters Nelson has actually designed a special hook for his helicopter so trap boxes can be dropped into the dense bush without assistance to release the load” he says.
The trapping network will be part of an integrated pest control plan. It will be complemented by the use of 1080 pesticide which will be particularly valuable in the event of a beech mast when rat and stoat numbers surge. The Tasman District Council has recently granted resource consent for the targeted use of 1080 pesticide in the Park.
The bulk of the 2,000 stoat trap boxes will be dropped over the next two weeks with DOC staff expecting to have the traps operational in February. To check the traps monthly will see the equivalent of one person walk 2,400km’s a year, more than the distance from Cape Reinga to Bluff.