Our trappers catch record numbers of stoats

Our Kiwi Sanctuary trappers have been breaking MEG records, with a record number of stoats caught in 2012.

Our team of stoat-trappers caught a record number of stoats and rats in our Kiwi Sanctuary during 2012, tallying 140 stoats and 1020 rats! This year they have also caught the most stoats in a January on record, since trapping began in 2005. While it is great to be catching so many predators, it just shows what a bumper breeding season it has been for these crafty killers.

Why do stoats need to be controlled?

Stoats are by far the most serious threat to kiwi survival. It is estimated that stoats kill 40 North Island brown kiwi chicks per day on average, or 60% of North Island brown kiwi born every year. By reducing predator numbers, we are improving a Kiwi’s chances of survival, and helping kiwi numbers on the Coromandel to grow.

Stoats were first introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800s to try to control a plague of introduced rabbits. However they quickly developed a taste for New Zealand’s flightless ground nesting birds, lizards and insects, which proved much easier to catch than rabbits.

Stoats are a ruthless predator, able to kill kiwi chicks that weigh four or five times more than they do. They  are opportunists so kill wantonly and will eat anything – rodents, birds, weta, lizards and kiwi chicks. They are very mobile and especially good climbers and swimmers.

The good news? Moehau Environment Group has been undertaking landscape-scale stoat trapping in the Northern Coromandel since 2005, to complement the adjacent Department of Conservation Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary. The lifespan of the Coromandel kiwi is higher than anywhere else in the country, thanks to the predator control efforts of community groups and DOC. Monthly trapping has enabled the local kiwi population to double every 6-8 years.