predator control

Survival of PIT-tagged lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) through an aerial 1080 pest control operation

Introduced mammalian predators, in particular rats (Rattus spp.), are a major threat to New Zealand bat populations. Aerial application of the toxin sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) is currently the most costeffective method of controlling rats across large spatial extents. Lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) may be vulnerable to secondary poisoning from 1080 because they feed on invertebrate prey on the ground that may have consumed toxic bait.

Developing population models for guiding reintroductions of extirpated bird species back to the New Zealand mainland

Population models are useful tools to guide management as they allow us to project growth and persistence of wildlife populations under different scenarios. Nevertheless, good data are needed to produce reliable models, and this requirement is problematic in some situations. North Island saddlebacks (Philesturnus rufusater) were reintroduced to Boundary Stream Mainland Island in September 2004, and this was the first time this species had occurred in an unfenced mainland area since their extirpation in the 19th century.

Measuring stoat (Mustela erminea) and ship rat (Rattus rattus) capture success against micro-habitat factors

The influence of micro-habitat on stoat (Mustela erminea) and rat (Rattus rattus) capture success was explored using trapping data collected from large scale predator control operations at the Okarito and Moehau Kiwi (Apteryx spp.) sanctuaries. Generalised linear models were used to explore the relationship between micro-habitat predictors and predator kill trapping records from individual trap sites. Our results suggest that micro-habitat information can provide useful predictors of rat and stoat capture success.

Decline in capture rate of stoats at high mouse densities in New Zealand Nothofagus forests

We present two statistical models documenting variations in density indices of stoats and of mice in New Zealand southern beech (Nothofagus spp.) forests. They confirm previous, simpler correlations showing that the summer capture rate of stoats increases with spring mouse density index up to about 20–25 mouse captures per 100 trap-nights (C/100TN). However, at much higher mouse densities (60–80 C/100TN), observed in the Grebe and Borland Valleys in southern Fiordland in 1979/80 and again in 1999/2000, fewer stoats were caught than expected.

Protected areas for kiwi in mainland forests of New Zealand: how large should they be?

This paper examines, theoretically, how dispersal affects the viability of brown kiwi populations in protected areas of different size. Brown kiwi are threatened by introduced mammalian predators in mainland forests and are likely to persist only in managed forests where predators are controlled. In each protected area, the kiwi population will function as a net source, with an outflow of juveniles into the adjoining forest and minimal backflow into the reserve.

Large scale stoat control to protect mohua (Mohoua ochrocephala) and kaka (Nestor meridionalis) in the Eglinton Valley, Fiordland, New Zealand

To enhance the breeding success and survival of kaka (Nestor meridionalis) and mohua (Mohoua ochrocephala), we initiated stoat (Mustela erminea) control in the Eglinton Valley (13 000 ha), Fiordland, New Zealand using a single 40 km line of traps spaced 200 m apart with traps set continuously. This low intensity stoat control regime permitted successful kaka breeding and fledgling survival was high.

Rabbit bait-take from plastic bait stations

Plastic bait stations were trialled to assess their usefulness as a rabbit control tool. Non-toxic cereal baits were applied at two 171 ha Mackenzie Basin sites, at one site in stations and at the other site spread directly on the ground. Bait-take at each site was measured. Rhodamine-dyed baits were also used to determine the proportion of rabbits at each site that took bait. Bait-take, and the proportion of shot rabbits with stomachs containing dye, were both significantly lower (P ² 0.0001) at the bait station site.

Obtaining meaningful comparisons of nest success: data from New Zealand robin (Petroica australis) populations

Nest success, the proportion of clutches resulting in one or more fledglings, is a key indicator for assessing the effect of management on bird populations. However, the figures reported for New Zealand populations are usually "apparent nest success", the number of successful nests divided by the total number found. Apparent nest success invariably overestimates the true success rate, and the degree of bias depends on the population and monitoring regime. Consequently, apparent nest success rates cannot be reliably compared.

First results of feral cats (Felis catus) monitored with GPS collars in New Zealand

The presence of feral cats (Felis catus) in the braided river valleys of New Zealand poses a threat to native species such as the critically endangered black stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae). Trapping remains the most common method to control introduced predators, but trap placement criteria have not been fully informed by advances in the understanding of the spatial ecology of the pest species. We assessed the suitability of Global Positioning System (GPS) tags to study the spatial behaviour of feral cats in New Zealand braided rivers.

Using artificial nests to predict nest survival at reintroduction sites

Artificial nests are frequently used to assess factors affecting survival of natural bird nests. We tested the potential for artificial nests to be used in a novel application, the prediction of nest predation rates at potential reintroduction sites where exotic predators are being controlled. We collected artificial nest data from nine sites with different predator control regimes around the North Island of New Zealand, and compared the nest survival rates with those of North Island robin (Petroica longipes) nests at the same sites.