15 October 2015
Rat sign detected on Ulva Island
Trapping a rat that has invaded predator free Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara, off the coast of Stewart Island/Rakiura, is a high priority for Department of Conservation (DOC) staff.
Rat prints were first detected on a tracking card near the Post Office Bay houses as part of a routine tracking card and trap check. Rodent detecting dog Gadget and her handler Sandy King found signs of a rat in two areas after checking the island.
DOC staff have implemented an incursion response, including activating all traps in the existing network across the island. The work programme is being led by island rat eradication expert Peter McClelland, who spent many years working for DOC, and advice is being received from DOC biosecurity experts around the country. A team of DOC staff and contractors stationed on the island this and last week have increased trap and tracking tunnel checks from once to twice weekly and installed additional tracking tunnels.
Ongoing biosecurity work has been supported by the Ulva Island Trust, a group of Stewart Islanders who recognise the importance of this island sanctuary.
“On average, one rat per year manages to reach Ulva. It’s not surprising, considering it’s very close to Stewart Island,” DOC Ranger Jennifer Ross said.
DOC will continue with this urgent incursion response until there is certainty no rat is present on Ulva Island.