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RATS!


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« on: January 26, 2011, 09:41:58 am »


Rats threaten endangered birds

By SCOT MACKAY - The Southland Times | 5:00AM - Tuesday, 11 January 2011

NASTY RODENT: One of 12 rats caught in a trap on "rat-free" Ulva Island, in Paterson Inlet at Stewart Island, during the past two weeks.
NASTY RODENT: One of 12 rats caught in a trap on "rat-free" Ulva Island, in Paterson Inlet at Stewart Island, during the past two weeks.

ENDANGERED BIRDS in one of New Zealand's leading wildlife reserves are under threat again after a small population of rats was found on "rat-free" Ulva Island.

Twelve rats have been found in traps on the island in the past fortnight, sparking fears for the survival of native wildlife.

The breach of the island, in Paterson Inlet at Stewart Island, is the second in six months after four rats were found last winter.

Department of Conservation biodiversity manager Brent Beaven said the most disturbing aspect was that a juvenile rat was found, which meant a breeding population had been established on the island.

"This is the first time a rat has evaded all of our traps, established and bred," he said.

The island had been rat free for 12 years and this was the "first time we failed".

"I'm a bit gutted at the moment ... it is a really special place," Mr Beaven said.

If the island was not cleared of rats within six months then the protected birds that had been released there, including the mohua and saddleback, would disappear, he said.

To prevent this DOC had doubled its rat devices to 120, which included traps, tracking tunnels and bait stations.

Checks on the devices had also been increased to weekly from monthly, he said.

"We basically want to get rid of the little buggers as soon as possible."

It was unlikely the rats swam there and probably hitched rides aboard boats, which meant people had to check their boats carefully, he said.

Meanwhile, possum control cycles on Stewart Island have been increased to once every three years instead of four years to give plants and trees more time to recover.

The forest was currently recovering only as fast as it was being attacked by the possums so DOC wanted to "tip the scales" in the favour of the forest, Mr Beaven said.

The control cost between $60,000 and $80,000 and included tacking 1080 pellets to trees in pouches to target the possums.

It is scheduled to begin in the next fortnight.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/4527100/Rats-threaten-endangered-birds
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 10:03:42 am »


Ulva Island rat pack targeted

By SCOT MACKAY - The Southland Times | 5:00AM - Thursday, 20 January 2011

Ulva Island Rodents

A TEAM OF rat eradication experts will meet in Southland on Wednesday to devise a plan to save Ulva Island.

Twenty rats have been found on the former rat-free island, in Paterson Inlet at Stewart Island, since the beginning of the year, sparking fears for the safety of native wildlife.

Department of Conservation Stewart Island biodiversity manager Brent Beaven said both adult and juvenile rats had been found on the island and that meant there was an established breeding population.

This posed a significant threat to native birds so a meeting was being held between experts on rat eradication in Invercargill to work through options for the island, he said.

This could include ground control by trapping, poisoning or aerial control and while he was unsure what the cost would be, he expected it was "not going to be cheap".

There was expected to be only a small population of rats so far, but there was no doubt they would be feeding on birds, he said.

DOC Southland acting conservator Andy Roberts said the cost to eradicate rats from the island would be recovered from within the budget after resources were prioritised.

However, Mr Beaven said a lot of people had expressed concern about the island and were offering any assistance they could provide, which would hopefully help with costs. Ulva Island was the most unrestricted pest-free island in New Zealand, so people knew what they risked if a rat population became established, he said.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/4559590/Ulva-Island-rat-pack-targeted
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 04:48:00 pm »


Rats must go for sake of tourism

By SCOT MACKAY - The Southland Times | 11:29AM - Friday, 28 January 2011

Ulva Island Rats

STEWART ISLAND tourism operators fear their businesses would be destroyed if rat numbers on Ulva Island escalate.

Operators spoken to yesterday said Ulva Island was the star attraction for Stewart Island and was world famous for its large amount of native birds and lack of pests.

The island has been rat-free for about 12 years, but a breeding population has established itself in the past seven months, threatening wildlife.

Ulva Guided Tours owner Ulva Goodwillie, who was named after the island, said Stewart Island was regarded as a mecca for bird watching.

Few New Zealanders knew about it, but people come from around the world to see the rare species there, she said.

The majority of money made on Stewart Island was linked to environmental tourism and Ulva Island was at the centre of that, along with kiwi spotting, she said.

"We have a worldwide reputation, even though we don't know it in New Zealand. If we did not have Ulva Island, we would not have any [tourists]; it is the hub, it keeps the island going," she said.

Freelance guide Matt Jones said a study completed a couple of years ago showed about 46,000 people visited Stewart Island each year and he expected 90 per cent of those would have visited Ulva Island.

"A large per cent of the community are quite upset that there is a large amount of rats on the island and want it sorted out ASAP," he said.

Greenvale Stewart Island Bed & Breakfast owner Wendy Hallett agreed and said it would be a disaster if the rat population increased, but she did not think that would happen.

"If they get completely out of control it would be disastrous — (but) it won't happen because the people here are so passionate about it," she said.

The community helped the Department of Conservation make the island predator-free before and they could do it again, she said.

Meanwhile, DOC is still working out what techniques it will use to rid the island of rats. The department is working out the costs in the next few weeks.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/4593186/Rats-must-go-for-sake-of-tourism
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