Russell Kiwi Protection is an initiative of Russell Landcare Trust. It aims to increase the number of kiwi and other native birds and wildlife on the Russell Peninsula by controlling predators and improving the health of our native forests. It can only be achieved with the help of the people in the Russell community and people who visit this beautiful place.
Being on a peninsula is a major advantage for Russell Kiwi Protection. We are connected to the rest of Northland by only a narrow neck of land, so if we can get predators numbers to low levels it will be difficult for them to reinvade.
How the job gets done
The initial equipment, funding, and donations have already been used to set up two mustelid trap lines. These lines run parallel to the Russell Coastal walkway between Uruti Bay and Okiato point, and from Uruti Bay to Paroa Bay. There is already predator control being done at Tapeka and a few traps have been established to “plug the gap
Trapping Stoats and other Mustelids
Lines of mustelid traps will generally run across the Russell Peninsula, from coast to coast, in a pattern that maximises the chance of catching predators. Each trap is checked at least once a month by a professional trapper and all ‘catches’ are recorded so we can follow trends in pest numbers and assess the effectiveness of the project. To achieve the best results possible the traps are regularly serviced to make sure they are working correctly. Bird surveys will be conducted to enable people to see the success of the project.
Rat control is more labour intensive and costly than mustelid control. In order to achieve benefits for native wildlife, rat trapping needs to be intense. This is mainly because a rat’s territory covers only about 50 meters but a stoat may range over a kilometre. So, more rat traps are needed to ensure there is a trap in each rat’s territory. Lines of rat traps are no more that 100m apart and traps are placed every 50m along each line. Russell Kiwi Protection has the skills and experience to help landowners plan their own rat-trapping program.
The Kiwi Coast
Russell Kiwi Protection is part of something bigger named ‘Kiwi Coast Project Northland’. Along the 195 km of Northland’s east coast from Bream Head to the Aupouri Peninsula, over 75 community groups are working towards increasing kiwi numbers and, ultimately, creating NZ’s first “kiwi corridor”. Russell Peninsula is central to this community initiative www.kiwicoast.org.nz
Protecting the birds
Russell’s birds need quality habitat and the chance to breed and raise their chicks successfully. Some predators, particularly mustelids (weasels, stoats & ferrets) and rats, have steadily increased in numbers over recent years. Our bird populations are at risk so we need to control predators to give our native wildlife a chance to thrive.
Other Rare Birds coming to Russell?
We hope to build on the success of Project Island Song. If we can keep predators at low numbers some of the rarer birds that live on the islands may be able survive on the mainland of Russell Peninsula. Some of these birds could fly here, like the kakariki (native parakeet), or some could possibly be relocated here, such as the North Island robin (toutouwai).
This year’s work is the first step in a project which will eventually cover the whole of the Russell Peninsula. The size of the project area will be determined by landowner involvement, the enthusiasm of the community and the level of funding. Already, many landowners on the Peninsula do some predator control and Russell Kiwi Protection plans to co-ordinate and build on those efforts.
Generous start-up contributions have been given by Northland Regional Council, Kiwis for Kiwis and Foundation North, with other contributions coming from the Department of Conservation and FNDC.