The newly reestablished kiwi population introduced into the Hunua Ranges earlier this year has suffered a setback, with three of the birds being lost as prey to a ferret.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “This is sad news and a blow to the partners, staff and volunteers who have worked hard to release kiwi into the Hunuas.
“It shows that one ferret is all it takes to undo the enormous effort that has been made to establish a new home for kiwi in south Auckland.
“Establishing a thriving kiwi population in a new location is a complicated process and we need even stronger measures for eliminating pests in the Auckland region,” Mr Goff says.
Franklin ward councillor and Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore says, “We expect establishment populations like this to suffer losses from time to time and we must continue to work on creating a sanctuary for kiwi in the Hunua Ranges.
“We are determined to continue the programme of pest eradication from the Hunua ranges to maintain this pristine environment so our treasured native species can thrive,” he says.
Earlier in the year, Bill Cashmore released one of the six kiwis into the Hunua Ranges.
Regional Parks Manager Rachel Kelleher says the appearance of a ferret was disappointing as ferret activity had not been evident in the area’s pest monitoring.
“As soon as we knew we had a ferret in the area we immediately amended our trapping programme to target this species and successfully caught a large ferret soon after in the area where the kiwi were preyed on.
“These types of situations are part of the challenge of managing kiwi in the wild – if it was easy, they would be abundant.
“Establishing a thriving population is not possible without robust monitoring and responsive management, and while this is an unfortunate event, the loss of birds during reintroduction was not unusual or unexpected, but rather part of the challenge of managing species outside of predator-free islands,” she says.
Ms Kelleher says that while stoats are the main predator of kiwis, the trapping programme in the Hunua Ranges has been enhanced to specifically target ferrets and a conservation dog will also be used in coming weeks to ensure that no ferrets remain in the area.