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The first western Fiordland 1080 project will start mid-next year in the hope of bringing the stoat-ridden area’s kiwi back from the brink.
As part of the Department of Conservation’s "Save Our Iconic Kiwi" initiative, the operation will target 50,000ha of rugged, inaccessible terrain at Shy Lake, between Wet Jacket Arm and Breaksea Sound.
Non-toxic baits to accustom rats to the bait are planned for late winter next year, followed by toxic baits in September and October. The stoats will then eat the poisoned rats.
Last year, Doc monitored seven kiwi in the area, all of which were killed by stoats.
The plan over the next five years is to distribute 1080 and compare kiwi survival in years with and without it.
Doc ranger Tim Raemaekers said the the goal was to turn the kiwi decline into an increase.
"We already know that aerial 1080 is an effective tool for controlling rodents, possums and stoats in large, remote areas, and that it brings benefits for a variety of native species.
"But kiwi chicks are particularly sensitive to stoats and different areas around the country have variation in environment, pest dynamics and kiwi productivity, and we haven’t done an operation in western Fiordland before."
The drop would take place over three days, using 1.5kg of cereal bait per hectare, of which only 0.15% was actual 1080.
"This is timed to target the rising rat numbers, which the stoats will eat before stoat numbers multiply in early summer."
There were an estimated 1000-2000 kiwi across the area.
"Kiwi numbers and distribution are poorly known in Fiordland and there is work under way to improve our knowledge."