Tuesday, April 17, 2007

NEW ZEALAND NEWS: Cull on Secretary Island Nets Over 340 Red Deer

The Department of Conservation has culled more than 340 red deer off the 8140ha Secretary Island in Fiordland since November as part of an ambitious plan to eradicate the species and create another predator-free sanctuary.

In its proposal document, DOC says it also plans to test and develop methods for "intensive control of deer" during the eradication.

Secretary Island is off the Fiordland coast at the entrance to Doubtful Sound.

In 2004 Conservation Minister Chris Carter granted $7 million for the pest eradication work on 8140ha Secretary Island and 20,860ha Resolution Island, in Dusky Sound. An earlier attempt to eradicate deer, during the 1970s and 1980s, was unsuccessful. The first stage, a stoat eradication project for Secretary Island, was initiated in 2004-05.

DOC project manager Dr Kerri-Anne Edge said 341 deer had been shot from the air and ground-hunted since November – representing a significant denting of the deer population.
DOC estimated there had been a total population of between 600 and 700 deer on the island but the species was also breeding rapidly.

The eradication of red deer from Secretary Island is designed to protect the ecological values of the island, and to test and develop "methods for intensive control of deer" , DOC says.
Main methods being tried during the knock-down phase will be ground hunting, helicopter hunting and possibly the use of foliar baited 1080 gel as a promising option. Aerial 1080 drops have been discounted.

Ms Edge said deer pens were being put on the island and self-attaching radio collars would be used to help track deer. The work would continue into next year, she said.

To have the two islands free of all pests would add to a list of important island sanctuaries, including 1336ha Codfish, 1150ha Anchor and 475ha Chalky islands. The island projects are expected to be complete by about 2014. Work on eradicating deer from Resolution Island would start in July, she said.

Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/southlandtimes/4027345a6568.html

No comments: