Can you tell a ferret from a stoat? These furry intruders seem to be becoming more common on the Coromandel.
We caught our first ferret in the Coromandel Kiwi Project in September. That same month, Mahakirau Forest Estate on the 309 road also trapped one. Ferrets are rare in the northern Coromandel, but are caught more often further south. They prefer open farmland where rabbits (their main prey) is abundant. They pose a big threat to our wildlife. Species found in the same areas as rabbits like the dune-dwelling dotterel are more at risk.
And while stoats prey on kiwi chicks, a ferret can easily kill an adult kiwi, decimating breeding populations. In 2013, 26 kiwi were killed by one ferret at Tongariro National Park.
Ferrets are much larger and stockier than a stoat. Because of this, they require larger traps. As a precaution, we are deploying some larger DOC 250 traps at key locations within our trap network. It may give us better information about just how common these unwelcome visitors really are.