Ducks Unlimited

Displaying items by tag: Predator control

Saturday, 09 November 2019 09:50

Trapping of predators must continue

Ian Jensen writes about the ‘necessity of continuance’ in the war against pests.

For several years, no records were kept to show the numbers of predators dispatched on the property, though one Tims trap early on accounted for about 35 ferrets over three years.

In February 2008 a comprehensive record was started, compiled mainly from pests that my dogs found, hares that keen hunters dispatched, along with wasp nests that have been eliminated as well as bait stations for rats and mice.

In 2009, with assistance from Greater Wellington Regional Council, a number of DOC 200 traps were provided, and others have been purchased since.

The property is coastal dunes south of Te Horo, with about 10 hectares of wetland, where there are nine traps located on the wetland margins. Weasels are the predominant catch, followed by stoats, rats and ferrets and a few small to medium rabbits.


It seems bird numbers, particularly pheasants, have increased over recent years along with Californian quail. With the ducks, it is harder to make a comparison as water levels also play a very important part in the survival of the young and moulting birds.

For my traps I use the juice from ‘Sardines in spring water’; I have a small sealed container kept in the fridge that I store it in – once every three months seems to be enough to keep up the interest.

Some say it is not counting the numbers caught that matter, but it is the numbers still around that matter. However counting the numbers caught keeps one well motivated to continue the onslaught.

In 2017 there were 29 weasels and four stoat caught, while in 2018 that dropped significantly to four weasels, three stoats and a ferret.

This year has spiked with 21 weasels, 16 stoats and two ferrets – we also passed the 500 mark with hedgehogs since records began.


Published in Issue 177
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:45

Pest problem – A24 helps

Blue Duck Station, where DU director Dan Steele and his family live, work, conserve and save ducks, have discovered traps that seem to be super efficient. Here is something about them.

We are pretty excited about the latest  technology for dealing with pests; Good  Nature’s A24. The A24 is quite different from the DOC200 (350 of which we maintain), and has some advantages over it. The A24 does not need regular maintenance as it automatically re-sets and is therefore great for places with difficult access. The auto- resetting also means they have the potential to catch more as there is no waiting period between kills.

For these reasons we plan to put them in the far back blocks and inaccessible ridges on the station. We have also purchased some counters to indicate when to replace the gas canisters and to give us some catch numbers.

The A24 cannot tell you what it has caught as the carcasses of the creatures rot away or are often carried off by other predators so we will continue to rely on our DoC200s for this. We plan to record A24 catch numbers however and add them to our catch database, linked to our GoogleEarth application.

We believe that anything is worth giving a go in our battle against predators and protecting our whio and other species. We do not plan to replace our DoC200s with A24s but will use them as an addition and in different areas. We are looking forward to seeing results after we have had the traps up for a while.

It is also worth mentioning that the public feel the same, as two of our A24s have been sponsored by visitors as part of our ‘sponsor a trap’ programme!

 *Blue Duck Station hosts a number of  overseas people they call eco warriors, who visit and work on the station, learning about conservation and helping to protect the Whio.



Published in Issue 157
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:42

The traps Department of Conservation uses

Animal pests and predators are a major threat to the survival of New Zealand’s special native flora and fauna.

A wide range of  techniques and tools are used to control pests, depending on the threats and the terrain. Ground control is Department of  Conservation’s main approach. They use traps, bait stations or culling. It can prove highly  effective where the terrain is suitable and  regular checks can be made.

It is DoC’s most widely used pest control  approach with more than 400,000 hectares  under ground control management. Around 80 percent of the Animal Health Board’s  operations are ground control. Ground control methods are precise, but are also labour- intensive and expensive.

However modern self setting trap are effective and designed to avoid harming native birds if correctly operated. DoC maintains a network of over 180,000 traps and spends more than $5 million per annum on stoat and rat trapping. DoC also supports possum fur recovery in a number of regions. But even with high fur prices, consistently high numbers of possums are needed to make trapping economic. Also, to ensure the protection of native species,  possum numbers must be driven down to very low levels , this in turn is uneconomic for a fur industry.

This website will inform you of three new types of humane kill traps developed by the Department of Conservation and Philip Waddington. These traps are designed to assist conservationists with their protection of native species that have almost been wiped out by  introduced predators.

These traps are regarded as innovative and  responsible:

The DOC 150 and 200 humanely kill three pest predators - stoats, rats and hedgehogs.

The DOC 250 targets and humanely kills four pest predators - ferrets, stoats, rats and hedgehogs.




Published in Issue 157
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:40

Pests best dead

Trapping is the name of the game.

DU member of Pohangina wetlands Gordon Pilone, sent in these shots of a recent catch.

He uses DOC 250 traps to eliminate stoats, rats and hedge hogs.

The kill traps are elevated on a plank on blocks to delay weed invasion and stoats seem to like “running the plank”.

Gordon said a hen egg as bait can be successful even at several weeks old. Also used successfully for stoat kill, is a Timms tunnel trap baited with a fish head.

Published in Issue 157
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:35

Predating the predators

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.



Published in Issue 157
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:27

Kahikatea wetland at Motu

Motu Scenic Reserve is a 20 hectare kahikatea wetland forest located just past Motu township in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

The reserve is unique as it contains: an oxbow wetland (crescent-shaped lake lying alongside a winding river) and an original kahikatea swamp forest, one of only two percent left in New Zealand.

The remainder of the reserve is alluvial forest with a low canopy of houhere (lacebark) and wheki-ponga (tree fern). Kahikatea (white pine) emerge 30 metres above the canopy. Motu Scenic Reserve is also habitat for aquatic bird species and provides valuable habitat for weka and common bush birds. Visitors can access the reserve, although there are no formal walking tracks.

In 1913 the government approved 70 acres of native bush and lagoon for Motu Scenic  Reserve now managed by the Department of Conservation. Visitors from the Motu Hotel  often went boating on the lake in the early 1900s when the hotel was at its most popular.

A photo taken by well known local  photographer William Crawford in the 1900s features the oxbow lake with Christian Hansen rowing his children and James Whinray (nearby Whinray Scenic Reserve is named  after).

DoC undertakes trapping, weed control and restoration planting at the reserve.

The trapping programme targets rats, mustelids and possums. While weed control focuses on Japanese honeysuckle, old man’s beard, English ivy, Japanese walnut and various willow species. Visitors can learn more about problem weeds in the reserve from an information panel  installed next to the lake.

Sponsorship from Matua Wines has enabled restoration planting of manuka, flax, karamu, kahikatea and koromiko on the grassy margins of the reserve.

Motu Scenic Reserve is 47km from Opotiki, and 87km from Gisborne, turn off at Matawai on the Motu Road. At the township keep left, cross the bridge over the Motu River and the entrance to the reserve is located on the corner of Motu Road and Phillips Road. Nearby places are the Whinray Scenic Reserve Track and Pakihi Track.

For more information check out doc.


Published in Issue 157
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:02

Help at hand for Waikato wetlands

Tony Roxburgh, chair and trustee of the  National Wetland Trust provided the AGM with a glimpse of happenings with wetlands in Waikato.

The Trust plans a state-of-the-art interpretation centre, with research and educational facilities, wetland gardens and heritage trails on land next to Lake Serpentine in the Waipa district. This is one of 69 peat lakes in Waikato.

Issues to be worked through include highway access and formal agreement with the  Department of Conservation. DoC has already given approval to construct a 1.4 km predator fence around 10ha of the reserve at Lake  Serpentine near Ohaupo.

Tony said the plan includes a visitor concept plan, an interpretation plan, business plan and landscape developed for the site. These were funded by grants from Transpower, Trust Waikato and Waikato Regional Council (Environmental Initiatives Fund), and  supported by Waipa District Council.

They are looking at the best way to restore wildlife, including the feasibility of a predator exclusion fence. Funding from the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust, and a grant from the DoC’s Community Conservation Fund allowed them to produce a re-vegetation plan to restore vegetation and habitat.

Students of Te Awamutu School have been searching for native and exotic fauna, and have been the first to confirm long-tailed bats at the site. Other species confirmed include Australasian bittern, North Island fernbird, Black mudfish and Spotless crake.

The pest fence was completed in June this year and they now need sponsors and  donations to help with pest eradication and  re-introduction of native species.

Other work in the Waipa district includes Lake Ngaroto one of the peat lakes. It currently floods the peat and Tony said this could be one of the larger projects for the Waikato basin aimed at reducing loss of wetland and preserving the quality of the peat lakes.



Published in Issue 157
Tuesday, 27 August 2019 08:54

Largest wetland in Auckland area - Te Henga

Proposed predator control is vital for Habitat Te Henga and for the reintroduction and survival of many birds including pateke. John Sumich , Chair, Habitat Te Henga puts the case.

Matuku, Forest & Bird’s sanctuary, is approximately 120ha of regenerating mixed kauri and podocarps that merges into West Auckland’s Te Henga wetland, the largest in the Auckland area.

Visiting a dozen years or so ago, Sean O’Connor and Ossie Latham  declared to John Staniland, the resident guardian, that it was ideal for pateke although the whole valley would need predator control. Finally in 2012 the current Pateke Recovery group leader Tiff Browne and Nigel Miller agreed the blend of forest, swamp, and farmlands  offered all that pateke desire. With the large dune-impounded Lake Wainamu just over the ridge it would also be part of the habitat any  released pateke would utilise so that (area) also needed predator control. And while you’re at it they’ll (pateke) probably use the small estuary at the beach so include that!

Since 2002 the Ark in the Park project had been steadily expanding predator control to the current 2400ha and its north western boundary is conveniently the eastern boundary of the suggested predator controlled area.

The Ark has successfully introduced robins, whitehead and kokako and has an extensive mustelid and rat control program. Additionally a volunteer beach care group have been controlling predators for some years and have seen the return of New Zealand dotterel for their efforts. Other volunteers run a trap line at the north of the beach where on a headland there are five species of shearwater; the highest number cohabiting on a mainland site.

I was able to get grants from WWF, and Auckland Council Biosecurity to purchase traps both DOC200s for mustelids [the stainless steel model owing to the proximity of the wild West coast salt air] and also Belisle kill traps for feral cats.

Although the existing trap lines at the beach and at Matuku are fairly short and well managed by volunteers the new requirements have two long trap lines each over 12km and therefore too long for a sustained fortnightly trap checking by volunteers. Another grant gained from the Auckland Zoo Conservation fund is for a contract trapper who will  alternate the long lines.

Fernbird sightings and perhaps territories are to be recorded, as they  believe fernbird will be an indicator species showing a positive response to predator control. Over 100 traps were placed during September and between volunteers doing the shorter lines and a contract trapper doing the long lines we hope to maintain the effort year round. So far the perimeter traps enclose over 1000ha.

Robins from the Ark in the Park sanctuary have dispersed and have been seen around the lake; a kokako has also visited Matuku and tomtit are now being seen at Matuku so the original vision of the Ark in the Park, “ From the ridges to the sea” could become a reality with this new venture aimed at bringing back pateke. The potential then is for other waterfowl and rails to become established in the wetland and gradually disperse  upriver toward the Ark.

Check it out at



Published in Issue 157
Tuesday, 27 August 2019 05:28

Watch out predators – Steve’s on the job

In late November Steve Playle did a trap run at Boggy Pond and Wairio. The count was 1 ferret, 1 rat and 10 hedgehogs.

“The ferret was a big bugger and was caught along the stop bank between Mathews and Boggy. This took the total predator count to 23 ferrets, 1 stoat, 2 weasels, 4 cats, 5 rats and 14 hedgehogs.” said Steve.

Rampant growth of grass and weeds along with warm weather meant extra time cleaning around trap sites. Steve also put out another seven DoC250 traps on the Wairio Restoration Block along with two more timms traps along a pine belt where cats have been seen.

Stock tends to interfere with the traps in the Wairio Restoration Block. “We have to live with that unfortunately,” said Steve.

Mice also play havoc with baits with most traps stripped of meat if they have not had a kill in them. Steve said he knows it’s mostly mice because the DoC traps have mouse  droppings in them. He has seen mice in the timms traps too. “With only one ferret for this check it could mean their numbers and getting down or maybe they are feasting on mice or even frogs as the place is alive with them at the moment,” said Steve.

Steve has seen and heard bitterns and another was heard at Mathews pond.

Trapping is ongoing.

Published in Issue 158
Tuesday, 27 August 2019 05:07

Big reward for capture of bulbul

If you live in the Auckland region and see or hear a Red-vented bulbul, ring 0800 08 99 66 and you could receive a $1000 if your information leads to a capture. Reward period runs to the end of February.

The reward for information leading to the  capture of this pest bird was increased from $300 to $1000 in October last year. The reward is for information that leads to the capture of this invasive pest. Capturing and eliminating this bird is important.

Red-vented bulbuls can cause significant  damage to fruit and vegetable crops and they chase and attack other birds. The Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of  Conservation (DOC) and Auckland Council are working together to track and eradicate the red-vented bulbul in Auckland.

The response team working to eradicate this pest bird, which comes from Asia, need  information of sightings.

“We’ve had more than 70 calls about possible sightings since we offered the $300 reward, but are still working to capture one of these birds,” said DOC spokesperson Liz Brooks. “We’re asking the public to keep looking for red-vented bulbuls and to call 0800 80 99 66 if they think they see one. To encourage this we increased the reward to $1000 for a call that leads to a capture,” said Ms Brooks.

“We think there are at least five red-vented bulbuls in Auckland which most likely arrived by ship or yacht. They’ve arrived in Auckland twice before and were successfully eradicated. We want to eliminate them before they make themselves at home,” said Ms Brooks.

The red-vented bulbul is one of the most  invasive bird species in the world and in New Zealand is listed as an unwanted organism  under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The maximum penalty for importing, trading, releasing,  exhibiting or breeding a red-vented bulbul is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.

Red-vented bulbuls are confirmed to be located in three clusters in Auckland: south Auckland (Mangere /Manurewa/ Alfriston), west Auckland (Henderson / Te Atatu / Massey) and on the North Shore (Devonport / Belmont / Takapuna). There’s also been a  confirmed sighting on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

There have also been unconfirmed sightings in Orakei, in central Auckland, and at Walton, between Morrinsville and Matamata in Waikato.

Keep an eye and an ear out for red-vented bulbuls. They have a very distinctive call,  unlike other birds. They are easy to spot, a medium-sized bird, around 20 centimetres in length, about the size of a starling. They have a black head, a dark back, grey-white belly, and a distinctive crimson-red patch beneath their tail.  Call 0800 80 99 66.

Their distinctive call can be heard at: http://



Published in Issue 158
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