1080 drop boosts Waitutu kaka: DOC

The Department of Conservation is reporting an exceptionally good kaka breeding season in the Waitutu Forest following the 1080 drop last year.

DOC 1080 programme leader Colin Bishop said the department had been monitoring 11 female kaka since the drop and during the breeding season, which ran from about November to March, all had set up nests or the chicks had fledged with no evidence of predation.

In previous years the remains of chicks and adults were found in nests after they were attacked by possums or stoats, but following the 1080 drop there had been no signs of that, he said.

The 50-tonne drop of 1080-laced bait was carried out by DOC in October and covered 25,000 hectares of the southwest Fiordland forest.

Favourable weather conditions allowed for a good breeding season, while low predator numbers meant it would be the best fledging success – chicks leaving the nest with wing feathers large enough for flight – in the forest for decades, he said.

Since the drop there had also been an increase in the number of small birds such as the fantail and robin, Mr Bishop said.

"It has been a very, very good breeding season. We have taken out the predators and the birds are responding as we would expect," he said.

Pest numbers outside the drop zone were high and in time they would make their way back into the 25,000ha piece of forest, but the idea behind the drop was to give the native wildlife, such as the kaka, a chance to rebuild numbers and the success was evident in the lack of predation, he said. "It has been a real shot in the arm in the Waitutu."

The Southland Times