The locally owned Fiordland Lobster Company has been instrumental in the restoration of Pigeon Island, a 73 ha inshore island in Tamatea/Dusky Sound of Fiordland National Park.
In 2005 the company partnered with DOC to undertake an intensive stoat trapping programme and by 2007 the stoat population had been wiped out.
Fiordland Lobster followed up this success by reintroducing mohua/yellowhead and South Island robin/kakaruai to Pigeon Island with DOC.
Both species were last seen on the Pigeon Island 100 years ago by Richard Henry an international pioneer of the live transfer of birds to island refuges for conservation and one of New Zealand’s first applied conservationists.
Historic landmark in conservation
Henry built his home on Pigeon Island in 1894 when he became the curator and caretaker of neighbouring Resolution Island. Resolution was gazetted as New Zealand’s first Reserve, because of concerns that introduced mustelids (weasels, stoats and ferrets) were having a devastating effect on New Zealand’s birdlife on the mainland.
Sadly, however in 1900 Henry spotted a stoat (he recorded it as a weasel) on Resolution Island, indicating that these islands were not out of reach from these introduced pests.
The full circle
Over 100 years later we have developed methods for eradicating mustelids on smaller islands and Fiordland Lobster Company saw this project as an opportunity to make a real difference, returning Pigeon Island to a similar state that conservationist Richard Henry would have encountered in the 1800s.
The trapping network is now maintained as a biosecurity measure to catch new pest arrivals to the island and in 2008 a programme to eradicate stoats off Resolution Island began. The long-term goal is to restore both islands to their former biological glory and to share with New Zealanders once again an example of the thriving forests early explorers experienced.
Removing mohua from mist net