Chalky Island conservation
IntroductionThis small Fiordland island has a big conservation story and even boasts its own species of skink.
Chalky Island, 514 ha, is located at the entrance to Chalky Inlet in southern Fiordland. With the absence of some of the pests that plague the mainland (rats, mice, possums and deer) the ecosystem was mostly intact. Stoats however, had made their way to the island.
The Te Kakahu/Chalky Island skink was discovered in 2002 and confirmed as a distinct species in 2011. A population estimate undertaken by DOC in 2013 indicated the skinks were relatively abundant.
Chalky Island and the neighbouring Passage Islands were the first islands in history where an attempt was made to eradicate stoats. All three islands have been predator free since 1999.
After the successful stoat eradication program, a series of translocations took place:
- 2002: yellowhead/mohua
- 2003: kākāpō (held here for 3 years until the larger Anchor Island became available after another successful stoat eradication)
- 2005, 2006, 2007: orange-fronted kākāriki
- 2008: little spotted kiwi
- 2008: South Island saddleback/tīeke (the first ever attempt to transfer this species)
- 2010: South Island robin/toutouwai
The introduction of these birds will help to restore Chalky Island to its natural state prior to the invasion of stoats. Some populations are now so healthy that they provide an important resource for translocations to other sites.
Stoats are good swimmers so it’s important to maintain the stoat trap network and prevent re-invasion from the mainland.
Monitoring of the translocated bird populations and general bird surveys take place regularly.
Biosecurity measures on Secretary Island are critical to prevent the introduction of pest animals and plants. It’s important that all visitors understand the biosecurity risks and know how to prevent the introduction of seeds and animal pests, such as rats and mice.