Doc busy with pests, monitoring

A yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho. Photo: Kate Gold
A yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho. Photo: Kate Gold
Environment Southland's regional services committee were treated to an informative update yesterday on the Department of Conservation's [Doc] work in the area.

Doc senior ranger community Phil Melgren presented at the committee's first meeting since local body elections.

Mr Melgren said several current projects had been "going well" in Southland.

Those included the 1080 pest eradication operation in the Catlins, mohua monitoring, sea lion tagging, and weed eradication.

Doc had been working "collaboratively" with the University of Texas on sea lion research.

"We've been catching sea lions and putting tags on them just to monitor where they are going in the Catlins and that's been giving us some interesting data," Mr Melgren said.

There had been success training dogs to find small weeds that humans had struggled to see.

The numbers of hoiho, the yellow-eyed penguin, on Whenua Hou, also known as Codfish Island, had been "a disaster".

"Twelve nests were found this season, last season it was 14, the season before that there were 30."

Near Curio Bay, nests had decreased from 28 to 6, he said.

"There's predator control happening there, no-one goes there, so there's something happening to these animals in their marine environment."

There were multiple reasons why "things were going downhill" for hoiho.

"They seem to be starving ... we've found some with barracoutta bites."

Councillors also discussed catchment operations work programmes and an update on contracts being carried out for the catchment operations division.

Earlier in the day, the first Strategy and Policy Committee meeting was held since the elections.

The main focus was on Environment Southland's submission for Healthy Waterways and Highly Productive Land.

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