In late December, Kiwis for kiwi was notified of the presence of a stoat on Motutapu Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

Stoats kill kiwi chicks and are the main reason 95% of kiwi hatched in the wild die before they reach breeding age in areas where no predator control is present.

Prior to having an awareness of stoat presence on Motutapu, we had released two Coromandel brown kiwi chicks this season to join the 107 already transferred to the motu (island). These chicks were from Kuaotunu, were around four weeks of age and weighed 450 grams at release.

Since being notified, this is what we have done:

We sent a kiwi-certified dog and handler team to the motu on New Year’s Eve to recapture these chicks and relocate them by helicopter to the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua. The team was successful in recatching one of the two chicks.

We contracted a predator control expert to carry out an appraisal of traps on the motu alongside the Department of Conservation and Ngāi tai ki Tāmaki. In response to his recommendations, more traps and field cameras are currently being installed and the trapping system is being intensified.

Motutapu is Kiwis for kiwi’s kōhanga site for Coromandel brown kiwi. As a result of the two stoat incursions in 2020, we have suspended any movement of chicks to the motu. All chicks due for release onto Motutapu will be moved to crèching facilities around the North Island where they’ll be reared until they’re around 1kg in weight. On January 22, four birds originally destined for the motu will be relocated to Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre.

Work continues to track down the stoat(s) and we hope the motu will be safe to continue transferring kiwi chicks to in the future. In the meantime, the safety of kiwi vulnerable to stoat predation is of utmost importance to us, and we are thankful to everyone who continues to protect this precious taonga on the mainland as well as on islands.

Read the Department of Conservation media release here >>>

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