In addition to irreversibly altering New Zealand’s landscape, the arrival of humans also led to the introduction of non-native mammalian predators, such as brushtail possums, rats, and stoats. New Zealand’s long geographic isolation meant that when these new terrestrial predators arrived the native species had little to no defense. Predation and habitat loss led to the collapse or extinction of many native mainland species. In order to preserve their incredible biodiversity, New Zealand is driving the cutting edge of pest management and reintroduction biology. Through predator control, New Zealand has created a system of preserves capable of protecting many of their unique and vulnerable endemic spices.

North Island Robin (Toutouwai)

Pureora Forest Park to Maungatautari Ecological Island                                                                                  May 2011 and March, April 2012

The Toutouwai (Petroica australis) may be New Zealand’s friendless bird and their natural curiosity combined with their love of mealworms make them easily trained. Approximately 2 months before the reintroduction volunteers would scout Pureora Forest Park for Toutouwai territories, stopping to train individuals to associate taping with a food reward (i.e. mealworm). At the beginning of fall, volunteers would return to Pureora Forest Park to capture trained Toutouwai by luring them into claptraps (a mesh net triggered by a puff of air). The Toutauwai were held up to three days before transported to Maungatautari Ecological Island for release.

Being that this was my first exposure to this method of capture during the 2011 reintroductions I primarily helped with the capture and transport of Toutouwai. The experience I gained during the first reintroduction gave me the skill needed to act as a team leader during the 2012 reintroductions. I led a team of volunteers throughout the food association training and capture process, during which time I was responsible for the majority of the bird handling.




North Island Saddleback (Tieke)

Mokoia island to Tawharanui Regional Park                                                                                                            April 2012

I was asked to join an experienced team of volunteers responsible for the capture of tieke (Philesturnus carunculatus) on Mokoia Island. I was primarily responsible for scouting tieke territories and independently mist netting the identified individuals. The Tieke were lured into the mist nets using a dual speaker playback system, which allowed the netter to toggle the calls back and forth across the nets. This enticed the tieke to cross from one side of the net to the other causing them to become entangled in the process. The tieke were held in temporary aviaries until they were transported to Tawharanui Regional Park via helicopter.