Auckland’s Motutapu Island placed under rāhui after prolonged stoat invasion
A rāhui has been placed on Auckland’s Motutapu Island as authorities work to capture two elusive stoats.
The rāhui (ban) means that access to the island in the Hauraki Gulf will be restricted and camping closed for the next 30 days while the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the iwi Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki will be try to trap stoats.
Stoats were first detected on predator-free Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands in May 2020. Two were trapped in September and January.
Motutapu Island has now experienced four ermine outbreaks in one year.
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Evidence shows that the weasel-like creatures, capable of swimming long distances, arrived from the Auckland mainland, DOC said.
Stoats pose a significant risk to endangered native birds and lizards.
Stoats are believed to be responsible for the deaths of three tūturuatu (shore plover), one of the world’s rarest shorebirds, on Motutapu Island in January, leading to the evacuation of 10 of the birds to a sanctuary and a wildlife center.
In a statement, DOC’s incursion response adviser Claire Warren said there are currently 460 traps set in Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands, with 150 more expected to be set.
Trapping on the mainland will help reduce the risk of stoat incursions, she added.
Surveillance cameras and ermine dogs are also used about four times a year to track pest movements.
“We ask people to take note of the iwi rāhui and not to visit Motutapu as long as our first priority is to catch the last stoats,” she said.
Ferry services to Rangitoto Island are not affected by the rāhui.
Auckland Council Natural Environment Officer Phil Brown said the impact of stoats on native wildlife is “devastating.”
“Chasing single stoats in otherwise stoat-free areas is a challenge.”
The council takes its protection responsibilities seriously, he said.
“We are constantly stepping up our pest trapping activities to prevent re-invasion.”
This includes the purchase of a $ 4,000 thermal camera earlier this year, which helped council rangers track the movements of stoats in Shakespear’s Pest-Free Regional Park, which is currently on its largest excursion. nowadays.
Brown praised the efforts of community members who have made an effort to control the pests on their land.
“It’s these efforts that really help protect our biodiversity.”
As of January, the Auckland Council and DOC had together spent $ 86,000 over seven months trying to trap elusive stoats in the Hauraki Gulf.