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Biosecurity—Protecting the Bay of Islands

Ongoing biosecurity measures have protected the Bay of Islands for 10 years and ensured that no invasive species establish a population which would threaten native wildlife.

New Zealand is no stranger to the threat invasive species pose to island wildlife. In fact, New Zealand’s Predator Free 2050 initiative is aimed at preventing extinction through the removal of the invasive species causing the most damage to native ecosystems and wildlife. Equally as important as removing invasive species from islands is ensuring invasive-free islands remain that way.

Project Island Song is an initiative aimed at protecting native wildlife in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. The main seven islands have been free of invasive species for ten years and the islands have been able to thrive. Thousands of trees have been planted and five species of rare and endangered animals have been reintroduced.

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Toutouwai (NZ robin) are released on main island, Urupukapuka. Photo: Dean Wright.

Now, the challenge is keeping the islands predator-free explains New Zealand Department of Conservation community ranger, Helen Ough Dealy:

The issue is that the islands are within easy swimming reach of the mainland for Norway rats and stoats. And ship rats and mice can come on boats. But the good news is that so far there’s been no re-establishment of any pest species. Norway rats and the odd ship rat or mouse do turn up and there is the very occasional sighting of a stoat, but there’s been no populations establishing. For 10 years the islands have been pest-free, but with ongoing incursions.”

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Meet the biosecurity team – detector dogs ready for action!

Protecting the Bay of Islands wildlife means personnel and visitors need to be careful and vigilant to ensure no invasive species are reintroduced. This means any sightings need to be reported immediately and there need to be routine sweeps of the island using detection dogs.

For the past 10 years, this method has been successful and hopefully one day with Predator Free New Zealand, the islands will be less at risk of re-invasion.

Source: Predator Free New Zealand. By: Kate Gutherie
Featured photo: Bay of Islands – Te Rawhiti Inlet. Credit: Dr. Thomas Liptak

About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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