Ratting Out the Weasels
Stoats, which were first introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century to combat the spread of the rabbit, have decimated the kiwi population reducing little spotted kiwi and Rowi or Okarito brown kiwi numbers to 1200 and 300 respectively. Recent surveys by the Department of Conservation found that kiwi populations are shrinking by 6 per cent a year. Unfortunately, stoats are very hard to catch. “The animals are so abundant and resilient that trapping has been abandoned as a control measure,” reports The Australian. Instead, New Zealanders are resorting to breeding programs to protect kiwi. “Rowi are literally being brought back from the brink of extinction,” Department of Conservation regional director James Livingstone said.