A male stoat has been killed on Motutapu Island after being lured to a trap with a new approach – recordings of baby stoats and female stoat-scented bedding.
There has been a breakthrough in the long-running hunt for stoats on a pest-free island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.
A male stoat has been trapped and killed on Motutapu Island, the Department of Conservation (DOC) said.
It is the third stoat to be found after the pest’s presence was first detected on both Motutapu and Rangitoto islands in May last year.
There are more than 600 traps set up and conservation dogs are regularly brought in to help with the search.
But it was an innovative new trap lure that caught this stoat out.
Last week, a conservation dog identified a new area of interest.
The trap was hidden in an artificial den and the stoat was lured in by a playback recording of baby stoats and female stoat-scented bedding.
It is the first time DOC has caught a stoat with this type of sonic lure.
DOC technical advisor Stuart Cockburn said it was an interesting approach.
“Sound lures have often shown promise in trials, but this result shows that if the recipe is right, with the right sound combined with clever trap setting, this new technique can get the job done,” he said.
Ngai Tai ki Tāmaki representative Billy Brown said this stoat had proved to be rather cunning.
“Our team of trappers work in some of the most extreme conditions, especially on Peretū – Rangitoto, so I want to acknowledge their hard work and perseverance. The islands and the taonga species they nurture have one less challenge to contend with,” he said.
“We have had to utilise a wide range of expertise and skillsets while exploring initiatives outside of traditional trapping methods as this has been a particularly guileful stoat.”
But DOC incident control manager Dave Smith said their work is not finished.
“This find is a huge booster and an exciting new development that we hope will help us find the other stoat,” he said.
The first stoat was trapped in September last year. A second was found in January, followed by this one on Friday.
The stoat will be sent for a DNA analysis which includes sampling and stomach content testing.