Paihia rat trap thefts put island wildlife at risk

Motumaire and Motuarahi islands, just off Paihia, are home to native skinks and endangered birds such as the endangered New Zealand dotterel. Photo / Stephen Western

A Bay of Islands environmental group is disappointed by the theft of rat traps from two small but ecologically valuable islands — but heartened by the public response since word of the thefts got out.

Bay Bush Action trustee Brad Windust said automatic re-setting traps on Motumaire and Motuarahi islands, just north of Paihia wharf, had been bought with a $400 donation.

The theft was discovered last week by volunteer Karen Markin, who regularly swims to the islands to check the traps.

Since 2013 the group had caught 267 rats and one possum on the islands and observed an increase in native wildlife, especially skinks.

The islands were also home to endangered New Zealand dotterels, oystercatchers, tui and kingfishers.

”So they’re pretty important little islands for wildlife.”

Windust said he had been heartened by Northlanders’ response to the theft, which included donations to cover the cost of replacements. A Haruru Falls family had also donated four new re-setting traps.

”We won’t judge you, and we definitely won’t name and shame you. Maybe you’re an animal activist, maybe you needed the traps elsewhere, we just want to know so we can help,” Windust said.

Rats were easily able to swim back and forth between the islands, where there was no fresh water, and the shore. However, it was a mystery how the possum got there because the Australian invaders are not known for their swimming ability.

The group is planning measures to ensure any new traps can’t be stolen.

Windust urged whoever took the Goodnature A24 traps to get in touch so he could understand their motivation.

There was no need to steal them because the group provided traps for people in the Paihia area who wanted to help reduce pest numbers.

NZ Herald

Footage emerges of Environment Select Committee chairman suggesting eating kiwis could be okay

The new chairman of the Environment Select Committee at one stage suggested it would be okay to eat kiwi birds if their population was large enough, and compared commercial whaling to fishing.

The divisive views aired in 2010 came to light today following new Japanese whaling ships going back to sea earlier this month.

Nine years ago Duncan Webb, a former University of Canterbury law professor who became the Christchurch Central Labour MP in 2017 when he defeated National’s Nicky Wagner in the general election, aired some controversial views on CTV.

When asked about whaling, he suggested it was like fishing.

“If I was Japanese I’d call it harvesting, just like we do when we’re fishing,” he said then.

“The fact of the matter is we do eat animals and a whale is just a mammal.”

He objected to the use of the term slaughter when talking about whaling, saying it was “utterly emotive”.

But he didn’t stop there. He went as far as to suggest there could be circumstances where eating kiwi meat was okay.

“What’s different between a kiwi and a mallard duck. If a kiwi had such a population that it was a pest, like the pukeko is in some parts of Westland, well you’d want to kill it. And if you’re going to kill it, why not kill it and eat it,” he told CTV.

But those views are in stark contrast to the Government’s Predator Free 2050 project which aims to see thousands of kiwi birds roaming the country freely – without the threat of introduced predators.

When Newshub asked Webb if he would support killing and eating the country’s national bird if they were like pests, he refused to comment.

NZ Herald

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