Predator Free Stewart Island talks begin

Feasibility studies on options for the Predator Free Rakiura Halfmoon Bay Project are now out for the Stewart Island/Rakiura community to consider.

The Predator Free Rakiura Governance Group has published three technical reports covering options for predator removal, details of a proposed predator fence, and biosecurity requirements to keep the island predator-free. A summary paper has also been published providing a concise overview of the three technical reports and indicative costs of the project, and touching on possible key issues.

Predator Free Rakiura Governance Group member and Stewart Island resident Sandy King says the scenarios discussed in the reports represent an assessment of the most likely to succeed and realistic options for the removal of predators from the Halfmoon Bay Project area and are designed to stimulate discussion among all communities of interest and stakeholder groups.

“None of the options in the technical reports are set in stone – no decisions have yet been made. These reports have been prepared to support public discussion and are by no means a final project plan,” Sandy said.

“Members of the Governance Group care deeply about this special place and realise that achieving our vision is only possible if all the communities involved also commit to making it a reality.”

The Governance Group is holding drop-in sessions on October 5-6 at the Stewart Island Community Centre. Sessions will run from 2pm to 5pm and 7pm to 10pm on 5 October, and 9am-12 noon on 6 October. Authors of the reports will be attending to answer questions and listen to feedback.

Anyone who can’t make these sessions can ask questions and make comments on the Q&A page of the Predator Free Rakiura website, or talk to any Governance Group members.

At the same time discussions are beginning on the island, the Governance Group will canvas the views of other communities with an interest in Rakiura via newsletters, meetings and email, and encourage them to read the reports and provide feedback.

Copies of the reports can be obtained from the Four Square supermarket on Stewart Island, or downloaded from the Predator Free Rakiura website.

Get the reports

Contacts

Governance Group members:

Sandy King 03 2191102 after 4pm or 0278679011
Jill Skerrett 03 219 1069 or 03 219 1417

Background

The idea of making Rakiura predator-free has been around for many years. This project is exploring how the community can work towards this goal. The community is leading the project, with advice and support from the Department of Conservation (DOC).

The indicative project cost is estimated to be between $11 million and $32 million. This figure will depend on the size of the project area and predator removal methods, which are both factors the community will have input into. It also depends on research to determine the density of bait stations or traps for the three rodent species present on Stewart Island.

The project is currently funded by DOC and the Morgan Foundation, and the Governance Group is investigating future funding options, including ongoing costs.

These reports focus on the first step of the project – predator elimination around Halfmoon Bay. If successful, the second step will be predator elimination of the rest of the island.

Predators to be eliminated will be rats, possums, feral cats and hedgehogs.

The Governance Group is made up of representatives from communities and organisations that share an interest (be it cultural, legal and/or a personal connection) in Stewart Island including local residents, Ngāi Tahu, Tīitī Islanders and the Rakiura Māori Land Trust, Southland District Council, Environment Southland, fishers, hunters and business owners.

The technical content in these reports was developed by a group of practitioners with experience in removing predators from islands and mainland islands around New Zealand and overseas. This group included representatives from Environment Southland, DOC, independent contractors and local technical expertise from Stewart Island. Independent technical peer review was also undertaken by reviewers from three different organisations and represents some of the most highly regarded expertise in this field.

 

 

 

  • Mary

    I can’t find an off-shore Island Ecologist’s report on if this is a good idea or not?
    On what consequences good and bad there might be?

    • PFSI

      The perspectives and contributions of ecologists were drawn on in the development of these reports; ecologists were part of the two-day technical workshop and authored two of the reports. An ecological assessment of the benefits to the Halfmoon Bay Area and wider Stewart Island / Rakiura in the context of a predator-free Rakiura was not the purpose of these documents however. It is stated on page 3 of the report on methods for predator removal that: Rakiura has exceptionally high conservation values because of the high proportion that is covered by relatively unmodified and contiguous indigenous ecosystems, and the diversity of flora and fauna (some of it threatened) present. These qualities are partly attributed to the absence of some of the invasive mammalian predators present on the New Zealand mainland— most notably, stoats. It is these exceptionally high ecological values and the potential for this work to act as a stepping-stone to removing predators entirely from the island that makes this project worthy of consideration.

      • Mary

        thank you for your response, however, a two day discussion somewhere or another by two un named ecologists is not what I had in mind. There are always consequences to any action for example, it might be that bait stations attract, are destroyed by and kill kaka as kaka is inquisitive and destructive in its behaviour at times.
        I do believe that an in depth understanding of the environment either around Oban or on greater Stewart Island is essential, not a talk fest with good intentions. It needs to be clearly established by Island ecologists, preferably highly regarded off-shore, ecologists with great experience, to establish whether what seems a great idea is in fact beneficial or otherwise. That requires time, and work in the environment as the disadvantages need to be clearly pointed out. If the current two day talk with unnamed people is what this project is based on. I must continue to oppose it. I am not opposed to protecting our wildlife but the current project is predicated rather on financial gain and that is not acceptable to me. Dare I say others also see it this way but have to live on the Island and so are less free than me to insist on sensible investigations, not some one’s hopeful pipe dreams which in the long term are very likely to be the wrong decision for both our wild life and our people.

        • Mary

          any chance of you replying? Any chance of adding to your reply that while the perception is largely unmodified Stewart Island, considerable movement of various bird species has taken place both around the Island and off the Island, has that been taken into consideration?

          • PFSI

            Hi Mary

            We aren’t quite clear on what you mean by wanting “off-shore island ecologists” to do the assessment work. Perhaps you’d like to elaborate specifically what you are after and who you’d like to do the work, including your reasons why you think the work done already doesn’t cover it?

            Every island eradication (globally) has resulted in positive results for the environment, at the population and ecosystem level. Yes, some individuals within native species have been killed or died as a result of the methods used, but the improved breeding success has quickly accounted for those losses.

            As you point out, every island eradication is unique. That is why before any eradication was to occur, a lot of operational planning is required. This would include learning the lessons from past eradications, and looking at the variables you refer to, i.e. non target species interfering with tools etc. All of which would be designed/planned to minimise those impacts, while maintaining the highest possibility for success. In that sense if it goes ahead, the small Halfmoon Bay project would involve extensive testing and would be an ideal precursor for any wider eradication across the whole island.