Introduction

The Department of Conservation is urging skippers to take all necessary precautions when mooring at pest free sanctuaries after a rat was discovered earlier this month at a popular mooring spot on Anchor Island in Dusky Sound.

Date:  21 March 2012

Anchor Island.
Anchor Island, Dusky Sound

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is urging skippers to take all necessary precautions when mooring at pest free sanctuaries after a rat was discovered earlier this month at a popular mooring spot on Anchor Island in Dusky Sound.

Fortunately, the rat was caught in a trap at Luncheon Cove but it is likely that it found its way to the island from a boat moored at this historic site. DOC has taken immediate steps to ensure any other pests that may have accessed the island are caught. Existing traps on the island have been rebaited, the trap network around Luncheon Cove has been intensified and the frequency of checks has increased.

DOC’s Biodiversity Manager Lindsay Wilson said it’s fantastic that people can access and enjoy the wild beauty of an intact ecosystem such as Anchor Island but it’s essential that boaties take care when mooring at these places.

“Rats can have a devastating impact on small bird populations; saddleback and mohua are particularly vulnerable”.

Predator free islands such as Anchor are extremely important to New Zealand’s conservation efforts. They provide a refuge for many endangered species who are vulnerable to attack from introduced rats, stoats and other predators.

Anchor Island is one of two island homes to the critically endangered kākāpō and also provides a safe haven for other endangered birds such as saddleback and mohua.

DOC would like to remind skippers visiting predator free islands to:

  • Always have rodent poison baits or traps laid on your boat.
  • Check all obvious hideaways (like dinghies, kayak hatches, coils of rope) for any unwanted stowaways before you set off.
  • Keep doors, hatches and screen vents closed when your vessel is moored on the mainland.
  • Choose carefully where you moor so as not to create a pathway from areas that are not predator free. Rodents can use mooring lines to board and leave vessels.

Background information

  • Luncheon Cove is an historic site of national importance on Anchor Island. On 13 April 1773, during a survey of the Many and Passage Islands near Anchor Island, Captain Cook found “a very snug cove sheltered from all winds, which we called Luncheon Cove, because here we dined on crayfish”. Source: Fiord Heritage by Neville Peat.

Kākāpō

  • The kākāpō (night parrot) is one of New Zealand’s unique ‘treasures’ and with only 126 known surviving birds - including 11 new chicks born in 2011..
  • It is listed internationally as a critically endangered species.
  • By the 1970s, only a few isolated birds were known to exist in Fiordland.
  • A survey of Stewart Island in 1977 found about 200 more birds but they were rapidly declining through predation by feral cats.
  • Following translocations of all the remaining kākāpō, they are now managed by the Department of Conservation on two offshore islands: Whenua Hou (Codfish Island) near Stewart Island, and Anchor Island in Fiordland.

Saddleback

  • The saddleback or tīeke belongs to New Zealand's unique wattlebird family (Callaeidae), an ancient group which includes the endangered kōkako and the extinct huia..
  • It is a medium sized bird, and adults of both sexes have similar plumage.
  • The bird's main feature is a conspicuous chestnut-coloured saddle on its back, but it also has chestnut on the tip of its tail, a black bill, black legs, and orange, "fleshy" wattles either side of its throat.

Mohua (yellowhead)

  • The mohua (Mohoua ochrocephala) or yellowhead is a small, insect eating bird which lives only in the forests of New Zealand's South Island and Stewart Island..
  • A beautiful splash of bright yellow covers its head and breast while the rest of the body is brown with varying tinges of yellow and olive. The female is slightly less brightly coloured than the male.
  • In the 1800s, the mohua was one of the most abundant and conspicuous of our forest birds, now it is the most threatened of its genus, Mohoua, which also includes the whitehead and the brown creeper.
  • Unlike the other two members of its genus, the mohua has disappeared from large, relatively unchanged forests and is continuing to decline.

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Contact

Lindsay Wilson
Biodiversity Programme Manager 
Te Anau Area Office, Department of Conservation 

Ph: +64 3 249 0200 or 021 667 672
Email: lpwilson@doc.govt.nz

See also:

Kākāpō

Saddleback/tīeke

Yellowhead/mohua

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