Pest traps used to help dotterel breeding season
Sunday, 26 May 2013
The Department of Conservation leads the Rena Recovery wildlife
programme. This programme supports a number of established
community initiatives to protect endangered species which were
affected by the Rena oil spill. One major focus is the breeding
success of New Zealand dotterel along Bay of Plenty beaches.
New Zealand dotterel are small shorebirds that nest along the coastline of the upper North Island, including Bay of Plenty. They are threatened by introduced mammal predators, loss of breeding habitat, and are often disturbed or endangered by vehicles and other human activities on the beach.
Sixty of these birds were caught as a pre-emptive measure when the Rena cargo ship first grounded, and twenty of these birds came from Maketu. They were held in captivity for two months to ensure they were not affected by oil washing ashore. Sadly three of the Maketū birds died while in captivity.
As a result of all of this disruption, the dotterel breeding last season was not very successful, in particular due to the smaller numbers of birds at breeding sites during October and November 2011.
Rena Recovery is supporting programmes that will help the
dotterel breeding season get back to normal post-Rena.
One of the most effective techniques to improve breeding success is to set traps to reduce the number of predators near breeding sites.
Julian Fitter, a passionate environmentalist and community volunteer, is helping with the pest trapping programme at Maketū spit and at Dotterel Point in Pukehina.
Julian is a man who wears many hats and it is through his role as Chairman of the Maketū Ongatoro Wetlands Society and as the Eastern Bay of Plenty Shorebirds Coordinator, that he has come to help with the Rena Recovery programme.
"We are quite pleased with the breeding season this summer, considering the disruptions of last season. The dotterel that were in captivity seem to have fallen back into their usual routine. Some appear to have left the Maketū nesting site, but more have been counted at the Pukehina site, so I think we are still tracking ok," he said.
"We have placed traps in the fences across Maketū spit, and we have also put some right down the spit. These traps are for catching hedgehogs, stoats and rats which are the main predators of dotterel eggs and chicks."
The traps, funded by Rena Recovery, will be used for many years and Julian is hopeful the Maketū Ongatoro Wetlands Society will continue its work to protect dotterel with the support from the community to achieve their ultimate goal of establishing the area as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance.