Ducks Unlimited
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:35

Predating the predators

Written by John Cheyne
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Predator and prey: Steve Playle, pest animal officer with Greater Wellington Regional Council (left), with a ferret trapped at Matthews Lagoon and DU president and wetland expert John Cheyne, with a stuffed Australasian bittern.    Photo: GWRC. Predator and prey: Steve Playle, pest animal officer with Greater Wellington Regional Council (left), with a ferret trapped at Matthews Lagoon and DU president and wetland expert John Cheyne, with a stuffed Australasian bittern. Photo: GWRC.

To help protect the birds, a trapping programme is underway to get rid of ferrets and other pests to provide a safer environment for rare native birds in the Wairarapa Moana wetlands.

These include Australasian bittern, royal spoonbill and the dabchick. Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) started trapping around Matthews lagoon and Boggy Pond in July. Using covered traps that exclude birds, pest animal officer Steve Playle was successful straight away, catching 13 ferrets and three feral cats in the first month.

“These are large and powerful predators that need to catch and kill regularly. If we can  control them around the wetlands, the wetland birds are bound to increase in numbers,” he said.

Hawke’s Bay wetland bird expert and Ducks Unlimited president John Cheyne, said  numbers of Australasian bittern were low in a count taken earlier this year, and the work being done by officers like Steve should help raise bird numbers in the wetlands.

“There is a lot of great wetland habitat at Wairarapa Moana, but I only heard eight  bitterns calling. There should be more.

Trapping ferrets and feral cats should allow them and all the other ground-nesting birds to breed more successfully.” The trapping programme is part of a wider project to enhance the wetlands around Wairarapa Moana, involving the councils, DoC, iwi, farmers, environmental groups and the community.

Story courtesy of the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

 

 

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