Annual check of Kapiti Island traps reveals island is still pest free

Each year over 200 mustelid and rodent traps spread across the island are armed, baited with dried rabbit and cinnamon-flavoured lure and left for around two months to see if any pests have made their way to the island sanctuary.

DOC Kapiti Wellington district operations manager Angus Hulme-Moir says no pests were detected this time round, which means the most recent incursion on Kapiti Island is the three stoats that were detected and removed in 2010-2011.

“It’s great to get another clean sheet for Kapiti Island. The 15,000 people that visit each year all have a role to play in keeping the island predator free by making sure there are no animal pests or plant seeds hitching a ride. This positive result is due to the collective care that everyone shows to the island.”

In the past 10 years there have been 21 incidents on the island that triggered an incursion response, but no pests were found to have made their way onshore. To help monitor for incursions there are also rodent, mustelid and Argentine ant-detection dog visits to the island and another network of 227 traps are set year-round on the coast at high-risk areas.

“The trip was originally scheduled for May, but it was postponed due to Covid. Happily neither the virus nor the weather got in the way this time, and we were able to go ahead under level 2 with some extra precautions,” said DOC Island Ranger Otis Berard, who organised the operation.

“The team of volunteer trappers and staff were also able to do maintenance on the tracks and traps. Overall we managed to do over two weeks’ worth of work in three days. On this trip we had a mix of local and National Office DOC staff, as well as volunteers, including LandSAR and GWRC contacts.”

Spending time off track throughout the island highlighted the importance of keeping the island pest free; teams heard little spotted kiwi/kiwi pukupuku calling at night, saw kōkako hopping through the canopy, and encountered other wildlife vulnerable to introduced pests. A parting treat while waiting for the return boat last week was seeing a kārearea/NZ falcon chasing a kererū/NZ wood pigeon flock across Rangatira flats before perching in a pōhutukawa by the beach.

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