CDC pledges funds towards hoiho field base at Long Point

A new Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust field base at Long Pt, Catlins, is a step closer after funding...
A new Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust field base at Long Pt, Catlins, is a step closer after funding for its perimeter fence was pledged by Clutha District Council recently. The base will provide on-site facilities for trap-setting and other volunteers, like South Otago Forest & Bird chairman Roy Johnstone. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A new southern field base for penguin conservation is a step closer after Clutha District Council granted funds towards the project at a recent meeting.

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust estimates building the base at Long Point in the Catlins will cost $190,795, with about $6000 earmarked for a perimeter fence at the remote site.

At its meeting in Balclutha on May 17, the council agreed to provide $5820 for the fencing and consents, under its biodiversity funding policy.

Although full funding for the new base was not yet secured, the trust was optimistic further supporters would soon be found, its field manager David McFarlane said.

``It's so important to us to have that local support from bodies like the Clutha council as it helps recognise the value of our hoiho [yellow-eyed penguin] conservation work at Long Point. The council has helped us in the past with money for predator traps, so we welcome its continued support in getting this new and important project off the ground.''

A trust report for the council gave details of the planned field base, which would be used to allow staff, volunteers and researchers to remain on site, particularly during the key October-March breeding season.

The base would include three relocatable containers linked in a U-shape to provide a bunk room for four, with toilet, kitchen and bathroom, a lounge and equipment shed.

Having more people on site more regularly would allow for additional policing of the ``critical'' breeding location, Mr McFarlane said.

During the past four weeks, two adult penguins from a breeding colony of 36 had been killed by dogs.

``Hopefully having more eyes and ears on the ground will help prevent further senseless deaths.''

This year, the council has $11,563 of discretionary funding for projects ``enhancing the ecosystem'', from which the trust's grant will be drawn.

The fencing project fit the council's criteria for biodiversity funding, Catlins ward councillor Hilary McNab said.

``This is a valuable species that needs protection. If we can extend conservation work at Long Point, then that's an asset for the whole of the Catlins.''

Mr McFarlane said that, subject to funding, he hoped to see work on the base begin by June 2019.

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