Monday, February 20, 2012

Rare birds released on pest-free island

One of New Zealand's rarest and most endangered birds has been released on Motutapu Island.
There are only around 200 New Zealand shore plovers, or tuturuatu, left in the wild and the Department of Conservation said the release of 17 of them onto the pest-free island yesterday aimed to bring them back from the brink of extinction.
Shore plover were once widespread around the coast of the North and South Islands but their population was decimated by rats and cats.
Breeding programmes have helped bring the numbers up since a low of around 130 in the early 1990s but DOC ranger Hazel Speed said they remained critically endangered.
"We need to establish more new homes for them on pest-free islands like Motutapu where they're safe from rats, feral cats and other animal predators and their numbers can grow."
Motutapu and neighbouring Rangitoto Island were declared pest-free sanctuaries for threatened native wildlife and plants six months ago, marked by the removal of nine pests including rats, possums and stoats.
Other native birds including the saddleback or tïeke and takahe have also been released onto the islands, along with freshwater crayfish and redfin bully fish, which all have declining populations.
"It's wonderful to be see shore plover joining the other threatened species we've released on Motutapu and Rangitoto since we rid the islands of animal pests," Speed said.
Members of the public are asked to keep an eye out for the birds which may fly to Auckland's mainland.
Anyone who sees them should contact DOC.

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