Does predator control allow braided river species to thrive?


We are here in the Cass River valley today It’s a really significant braided river that holds a lot of our threatened species One of the first things Te Manahuna Aoraki did was set up predator control here We have 1,150 new kill traps here in the Cass And, over 1,000 in the Godley We’re trapping the braided rivers, the tarns, right up to the mountains We’ve never trapped here before, and definitely not at this scale When we first started trapping it was mainly feral cats and ferrets Now we’re mainly catching hedgehogs Hedgehogs are a huge predator They’ll take eggs from ground nesting birds and also small chicks So they can be quite catastrophic Black-fronted tern See one has got some food, they’ll be taking it away to feed their chicks We put a lot of effort into monitoring because that tells us how successful our predator control is Braided river birds have to be thriving That’s our measure of success Not how many predators we kill Species that we’re monitoring are black-billed gull, black-fronted tern and banded dotterel And, obviously, kakī/black stilt So we have a lot of birds nesting out here on all of these gravels When we find a nest we come back and put a trail camera on it These are a really great piece of technology Because they monitor the nest for us 24/7 And the one thing we have here in the Mackenzie is a lot of sunshine So we use a solar panel This camera will be able to tell us if it hatched or failed And if it failed, why it failed So, this trail camera’s come in from the Cass network We had a really great initial knock-down of predators when we first started this work We’re seeing chicks hatching and leaving the nest, that’s really exciting for us We’re not picking up a lot of predation events There’s just this small area here that seems to have a lot of hedgehogs left over We’ve got a banded dotterel on a nest here That has three eggs Then a hedgehog is visiting it at night time and eating all three eggs Then off to the next one So, I think we need to intensify our trapping network just in this area Birds don’t know boundaries, who owns what property title We’re working on LINZ land, conservation land, and private landowner land We’re seeing initial indications that removing predators really helps these species thrive We’re offering the best protection that they’ve ever had And looking forward to seeing success for years to come

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