Date: 18 October 2018
A record number of 55 whio ducklings hatched in the 2017-2018 season is a welcome increase to the endangered whio population in the Oparara Whio security site.
These young birds will help grow the population of 46 breeding pairs in the area, located north of Westport on the West Coast of the South Island.
Bob Dickson, Buller Operations Manager says that the good results were due to predator numbers remaining low as a result of 1080 pest control operations in 2016 and 2017, and an intensive stoat trapping programme.
“Conditions on the waterways in the area were also good for ducklings who are being reared and just learning to paddle, with no big flooding events.”
As well as using landscape scale predator control and intensive trapping to boost numbers of whio, breeding assistance is also provided to grow populations of the native ducks.
Operation Nest Egg has been used in the Oparara, with nests monitored for nesting activity, and eggs collected and sent to The Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust for incubation, hatching and rearing of the ducklings until they are of a size and weight that enables them to better defend themselves from stoats. They are then returned to rivers in the wild.
The Oparara security site was established in 2002 with a goal to protect 50 pairs and has grown to include 95 km of traplines, which target stoats, the main predators of whio ducklings and nesting female ducks. The programme receives funding from Genesis Energy who support nationwide efforts to secure and grow whio populations on NZ rivers through a partnership with DOC called Whio Forever.
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