Kapiti believed to be free of stoats

BEN STRANG
Last updated 08:02 15/11/2012

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Kapiti Island is believed to be stoat- free again, after a two-year, $600,000 trapping and monitoring campaign.

The Department of Conservation spent two years setting traps and taking dogs to the island to track stoats after one was spotted in 2010.

Biosecurity monitoring and response methods have been permanently upgraded, and stoat detection dogs will spend another week on the island later this month.

Kapiti Wellington area manager Rob Stone said the department would work hard to keep the island pest free.

"Kapiti Island is one of New Zealand's most important nature reserves. We now know stoats can get there, and keeping it pest-free is a top priority for us.

"Just to be clear, we're not saying it's stoat free, we're just saying that we're very optimistic it is."

The last stoat caught was in August, 2011. Two others were caught in February, 2011, and July, 2011. There has been no sign of stoats since August, 2011.

"In the past we didn't think stoats could get to the island, nevertheless, it got there. How it got there, I don't think we'll ever know," Mr Stone said.

"We've now upgraded the trapping regime. In the past we monitored for rats and mice. We've now upgraded that to monitoring for mustelids, which is weasels, stoats and ferrets."

He said ridding the island of stoats was no easy task, because they were difficult to catch.

"The thought of them being loose on that island was daunting, but this is a result of a massive amount of work. We're saying $600,000, but that's a conservative estimate of how much it's cost."

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- Kapiti Observer

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