Predator control protects terns

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The majesty of an endangered species. . . A black-fronted tern about to land by its nest. PHOTO: PHIL GUILFORD.

By Amanda Bowes

Combined resources will see a five year predator control and protection programme to help the nationally endangered black-fronted terns in the Clarence Waiau/Toa River.

The Kaikoura Water Zone committee, DOC and Environment Canterbury have joined forces to help save the rare bird which is only two steps away from extinction on the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

The river, which stretches for over 200km, is recognised as one of New Zealand’s iconic wilderness rivers, but monitoring of the black fronted tern colonies has shown hedgehogs, cats, weasels, stoats and possums destroying nests and killing fledglings.

An overgrowth of broom in the river bed has also pushed the terns off their breeding islands and on to the banks of the river where predators hide and hunt.

In March this year, sections of a river channel were made deeper to help water flow more freely around the breeding islands and deter predators from reaching the nests.

The islands will be kept weed free and an extensive number of traps have been laid near the colonies to control predators.

The river flows through Lake Tennyson, past the St James Range, through Molesworth Station, then a series of gorges between the Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Ranges before reaching the sea.

Because of the large area, individual land owners, Landcorp, East Coast Community Organisation and Land Information New Zealand have all come on board to try to make a real difference to the Clarence/Waiau Toa catchment.

DOC ranger, Mike Aviss said it was brilliant to see multiple agencies and land owners pooling knowledge and experience to protect bird habitats.

Clarence farmer and Kaikoura Water Zone Committee member, John Murray, said he hoped to be part of a generation that would turn the tide on a 30 year spread of weeds .Molesworth Station manager, Jim Ward, said it was “superb” to see everyone working together to tackle weed infestation issues.

“The zone committee should be applauded for taking a collaborative approach to biodiversity protection.”