Sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) harvest intensity and selectivity on Poutama Island, New Zealand
- Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
- Present address: Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2, Canada
Rakiura Maori annually harvest sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus) chicks from islands in Foveaux Strait and adjacent to Stewart Island, New Zealand. Chick availability and the number of chicks harvested were estimated during the 1994 and 1995 seasons on Poutama (Evening Island). Burrow entrance densities estimated using circular plots were significantly higher in 1994 (0.45 ± 0.03 per m) than in 1995 (0.41 ± 0.03 per m). A similar burrow entrance density (0.45 ± 0.04 per m) was obtained in 1995 using a transect sampling technique. The number of usable burrows estimated using circular plots in 1994 and 1995 was 387 508 and 337 732 respectively. Of these, chicks occupied 24% ± 6% in 1994 and 29% ± 4% in 1995. It was estimated the muttonbirders harvested 13-24% (15 722) of the chicks present on Poutama in 1994 and 17-28% (22 092) in 1995. Muttonbirders targeted areas of the island with higher chick density and less fallen stems. Excluding chicks rejected by the muttonbirder (less than or equal to 750g), harvested chicks were significantly heavier and had less down than randomly encountered chicks. If larger heavier chicks are more likely to return and breed, then the preference for these chicks by muttonbirders would affect predictions of harvest impacts.