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Ring of steel helps protect vulnerable kiwi

Trapper Dave Cullen and Richard Henry beside a mustelid trap-847Community groups throughout New Zealand are doing their utmost to protect kiwi and reverse the 2 percent annual de-cline of the species.

A cooperative project in and around the Brynderwyns, begun earlier this year by Marunui Conservation, is contributing to the national effort.

It establishes a chain of mustelid traps, a ‘ring of steel’, on properties around Marunui to provide additional protection to the kiwi released there.

Mustelids are a major threat as ferrets can kill adult birds while stoats are responsible for the death of most kiwi chicks in the wild.

The buffer zone created extends east into the DOC scenic reserve, then from King Road south to Tara Road, westwards to Pebblebrook and Brown Roads and north into Hancock’s exotic and indigenous forest.

It expands the area under pest management to 1350 hectares.

“It has been made possible by funding received from the Biodiversity Condition Fund for labour costs and the support of DOC and Hancock Forest Management (NZ) Ltd, who both provided traps,” says John Hawley, who is managing the project for Marunui.

“Finally, the willing cooperation of more than twenty landowners who allowed traps to be located and serviced on their land enabled the work to begin.”

Richard Henry, whose farm on Tara Road adjoins Marunui, says he already does some trap-ping but welcomes the more intensive pest control.

“Last year I helped carry kiwi to their release site and I’ve since seen one of their first chicks. They are so vulnerable and need all the help they can get. I’m glad to be within the ‘ring’ and have noticed all the bird life has increased since the traps were installed.”

Trapping in the DOC reserve, undertaken on a voluntary basis by Gordon Hosking and Greg Stump of the Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust, is also helping the cause.

The vital importance of mustelid trapping was demonstrated recent-ly when one of the kiwi nesting within the ‘ring’ lost its newly hatched chick to a stoat.

There was a trap only 50m away and the incident happened just be-fore two extra traps were taken to the nest site by Dave Cullen, one of the project’s two trappers.

He says, “While some stoats may slip through the net, every one caught gives kiwi chicks a greater chance of survival. Since trapping got under way we’ve caught 20 of these vicious killers and this has to be making a difference.”

John Hawley says there have been six successful nests this season and two of the birds are incubating again.

“It’s been a great year and Marunui Conservation can’t thank people enough for their support in helping to protect kiwi in the Brynderwyns.”

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