Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the Whio Recovery Programme has made considerable progress towards securing the future of the species.
“Through a $4.5 million partnership with Genesis Energy going back to 2011 we have effective predator control at eight sites and some protection at 17 other sites. There is a network of 5000 new stoat traps protecting 599 pairs of whio across the country,” Ms Barry says.
“In the Kahurangi National Park the number of whio has increased by 48 per cent from 29 pairs, when the last full survey was carried out five years ago, to 43 pairs today.”
“These results take us closer to our goal of Predator Free 2050 by proving that outstanding outcomes are achieved when you kill predators by using aerial 1080 over large areas of inaccessible landscapes to knock back stoat numbers, backed up with traps.”
The Battle for our Birds operations in 2014 and 2016 resulted in high duckling numbers of 65 and 40 respectively in Kahurangi, compared to less than 25 in years where there was no predator control.
“The 2017 Battle for our Birds will be the largest predator control operation in New Zealand history and is an integral part of DOC’s strategy to protect our vulnerable species and enhance our biodiversity,” Ms Barry says.
“The whio population is increasing in areas where there is predator control and the total population is estimated to be around 3000,” Ms Barry says.