July 19, 2019

Marathon swimming stoat seen on island bird sanctuary

Ok you didn't see me - got it? I might look like a stoat but I am actually a rare native New Zealand bird with furry looking feathers, so I've got just as much right to be here as the next Kiwi.

The New Zealand Department of Conservation has set up traps and tracking tunnels in the Kapiti Island nature reserve off the coast near Wellington.

A department ranger spotted the stoat at Rangatira in the centre of the island on Thursday. The island nature reserve protects some of the world’s rarest fauna and is an important centre for native bird recovery programmes. It has been predator free for over 10 years.

Stoats are known to eat eggs and kill chicks of threatened New Zealand birds including the Kiwi.

DOC staff have concluded that the stoat must have got there by swimming the 5 kilometres from the mainland. If that is correct it is an exceptional feat for the furry pest because even champion swimming stoats have only previoulsy been recorded swimming 3.5 kilometres.

Anyway regardless of how it got there the stoat is the subject of one of the biggest pest hunts for an individual critter in DOC’s history.