Protecting our native birds

by Amy Adams

When I get the chance I love to get out and explore our country’s walkways and reserves.

One of the things I enjoy most about being out in the bush is hearing the song of our native birds such as the tui and bellbird.

Unfortunately our native birds are under constant threat. Predators kill around 25 million native birds every year and destroy habitats and ecosystems.

As well as threatening our bird species, introduced pests negatively impact our economy and our primary sector, with the cost of their damage estimated at $3.3 billion a year.

That’s why we all need to work together to rid New Zealand of rats, stoats and possums by 2050.

Heavy beech seeding (known as beech masts) means more food for rats and triggers an increase in their numbers.

This in turn causes a spike in stoat numbers, increasing the threat to our most vulnerable native species.

Significant beech masts previously occurred in 2014 and last year, and 2017 is set to be another year of heavy beech seeding. It is unusual to have two masts in successive years (2016 and 2017), however, over the last 30 years there have been other clusters of mast events.

To combat the increased risk from the anticipated spike in predator numbers, $21.3 million of new operating funding has been allocated to The Battle for Our Birds 2017 campaign.

This will fund one of the largest predator control programmes in our history, across 800,000 hectares of land.

Trapping and poisoning will start in July this year and run through to 2018, with most work planned before Christmas.

DoC will use a mix of ground-based trapping and poison in bait stations, depending on local conditions at each site, and will monitor predator levels to determine where best to drop 1080 in hard to reach landscapes.

With these measures in place, we should still be able to enjoy seeing and hearing native birds in our reserves over summer.