Trappers notch up 1000 stoat kills in Abel Tasman National Park
A crack team of trappers have executed their 1000th "killing machine" in Abel Tasman National Park, paving the way for the re-introduction of more native birds.
Stoats are considered "killing machines" and "public enemy number one" when it comes to invasive predators that wreak havoc on New Zealand's native birds, according to the Department of Conservation.
And a group of rangers that have been expanding the trapping networks in the Abel Tasman caught their 1000th stoat inland from Torrent Bay, near Cleopatra's Pool, last month.
The kill count started in early 2013 when Project Janszoon and DOC started ramping up its stoat control operations in the park.
DOC ranger Bill Knox has been a part of the project since the beginning. He said catching 1000 stoats in four years was "significant to the project as a whole" and "representative of a greater team effort".
But personally, the seasoned ranger said: "It's just another stoat, really. It's the next one we're interested in.".
Knox said he has noticed changes in the birdlife since they started adding more traps to the park, particularly weka.
"When I first started there were weka around Totaranui and the fringes but it was almost unheard of to see a weka inland," he said.
"Now we can't get away from the flippin' things."
Project Janszoon operations manager Andrew Macalister said the milestone was good news for the park's ecology and the recovery of birdlife.
"We cannot return the larger charismatic birds like kaka and kiwi back to the park without getting the stoat population under control. The success of the stoat trapping network paves the way for us to reintroduce more of these stoat-vulnerable species."
Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Mike Ogle says stoat numbers tended to peak during summer, but the they were getting fewer every year.
"A significant proportion of the stoat kills are on the perimeter of the trapping network so this tells us we have knocked down the resident stoat population and are dealing with the immigrants.
"Ultimately this means stoat-vulnerable species like kaka will have a much better chance of successful breeding in the core of the park."
Project Janszoon has installed about 2200 stoat traps in the park since 2013. More than 80 per cent of the national park is now covered by a stoat trapping network.