Doc staff and volunteer members of the Matukituki
Charitable Trust with one of the eight funnels collecting
beech tree seed in the West Matukituki Valley. They are
(from left) Donald Lousley, Flo Gaud (Doc), Sharon Haarsma
(Doc), Bruce Gillies, Estee Farrar (Doc), and Gillian and
Jim Reverley. Photo by Donald Lousley.
The Department of Conservation begins counting the number
of rats and mice in the Mount Aspiring National Park this week,
as part of the Battle for our Birds campaign.
Tracking tunnels containing ink pads and ''kill traps'' will
be used to monitor rodent and stoat numbers as the department
prepares to carry out the country's biggest 1080 poisoning
The campaign is expected to cover an extra 700,000ha of the
South Island at a cost of $21million over five years.
It is designed to protect native birds and bats by hitting
rodent populations due to explode in number because of an
unusually heavy fall of beech tree seed, which rodents feed
Planning is under way across the island, but the extent of
the poisoning in each area will be determined by local
Wanaka conservation services manager Chris Sydney said in the
Mount Aspiring National Park preliminary data from seed
monitoring showed a ''potentially moderate'' amount falling
in the West Matukituki area but higher amounts in the
A clearer picture of seed falls at particular sites is
expected when seed funnels are checked at the end of May and
seed sent to Christchurch to be counted.
''So we are hoping, come June, we will have some data coming
back from that.''
The deployment of tracking tunnels begins in the Makarora
Valley this week, followed by the Young Valley next week and
the West Matukituki Valley in the third week.
Raw data on rodent numbers should be available for analysis
by the end of May.
Mr Sydney said the size of the area where poisoning was
planned sometime between September and December had increased
''quite dramatically'' in the past two or three weeks.
The area had grown to protect more species - ''things like
the rock wren that are at higher altitudes''.
He expected the area in the park would be finalised late next
Similar planning was being done in districts across the South
The Battle for our Birds
Designed to protect populations of:
Great spotted, brown and tokoeka kiwi, kaka, kea, whio/blue
duck, mohua/yellowhead, kakariki/orange-fronted parakeet,
rock wren. Long- and short-tailed bats and giant snails are
also included in the programme.