Date: 25 October 2017
DOC staff in Te Anau DOC have received several calls from people concerned at seeing one-legged weka hobbling at the Chasm car park on the Milford Road, and at the Milford foreshore.
Lindsay Wilson, DOC Principal Ranger (Biodiversity), said such injures are likely to be caused by weka standing in incorrectly placed possum leghold traps.
"When working in an area with flightless birds, possum traps must be set at least 70cm above ground level on a surface that ground birds cannot gain access to."
"The injuries sustained by these birds points to traps being incorrectly placed."
"It's not just weka at risk. The Milford area has significant population of kiwi which could also be harmed by incorrectly placed leghold traps." Lindsay Wilson said.
Possum permits are required before undertaking any trapping on land managed or administered by DOC. Trapping requirements are clearly set out in the permit document.
Greg Lind, DOC Operations Manager, said that he was particularly concerned by reports of injured weka in Milford.
"No possum permits have been issued for trapping in this area since March. Anyone setting traps in the Cleddau or Milford areas is therefore trapping illegally."
"Illegally-set possum traps have also recently been recovered from the Lake Hauroko area."
"There are many trappers operating responsibly throughout Fiordland, and their work is invaluable in keeping possum numbers down. It's a shame that a few irresponsible individuals are tarnishing the reputation of the whole group," Greg Lind said.
A one-legged weka was recently caught in Milford by DOC Rangers, and taken for treatment. Its badly infected injury subsequently required a full amputation of the leg. It was later decided the weka would not be able to survive in the wild, and will become a permanent resident at Punanga Manu o Te Anau/Te Anau Bird Sanctuary. Other injured birds are believed to be still at large.
Anyone who sees incorrect trapping practices is asked to contact their local DOC office.
Possum trapping permits are free, and available from local DOC offices nationwide.
Possums are one of the greatest threats to New Zealand's natural environment. Feeding on new plant growth, they pose a serious threat to plants such as rata, totara and mistletoe. They also compete with native birds for habitat and for other food such as insects and berries. Possums also disturb nesting birds, eat their eggs and chicks and may impact on native land snails.
Senior Ranger, Community
Te Anau District Office
Phone: +64 27 536 6728