Hedgehogs - a prickly predator problem in South Canterbury, N.Z.

Taken on Kent St. Timaru 10 January, 2010 by M.T.
Kent Street, Timaru hedgehog 10 January 2009. Here is a hedgehog spotted crossing the road in Timaru. We very seldom do you see them during the day.
Another hedgehog in Marchwiel, April 5 2009, a Timaru suburb within 5000' of the Kent St. hedgehog.
2010 Jan. Hedgehogs are about (poos on the path) but I haven't seen any.

Arrival in Canterbury - 1869

Press 4 October 1869 Page 2
A pair of hedgehogs, the first imported into the province, have been presented to the Acclimatisation Society by Mr D. Robb, the purser of the Hydaspes. As the food of these animals consists principally of insects, they will no doubt prove of invaluable service in keeping down the grub. Anything which can help to destroy the rapidly increasing farmer's pest, will be a great boon to the province. Whether the amount of good done by hedgehogs is counterbalanced by their partiality for eggs and young birds, is a point upon which our Acclimatisation Society has as yet arrived at no defnite conclusion.

The Star Monday 19 December 1881
[Timaru Herald, 20 December 1881, Page 2 from the Press Dec. 19th]
Arrived Lyttelton, Dec. 17 - Waimate, ship, 1124 tons, Mosey, from London (Sep. 5). NZ Shipping Co. agents.
The Waimate, Captain B. Mosey, arrived from London on Saturday evening after a ninety-one days' passage from cast off from the Channel tug to anchorage. The ship brings 68 passengers, two horses, six sheep, besides some ducks, hedgehogs and dogs.

Timaru Herald, 15 September 1883, Page 3
Yesterday Mr Anderson, a farmer at Pleasant Point, was clearing some gorse in his orchard, when he came across a heap of straw, etc. thinking it was a rat's nest, he kicked it, when out rolled a hedgehog. It is fine grown, and perfectly tame. We should like to know whether anyone can give information as to how it got there, as we have never heard of any being imported.
Pleasant Point, Sept. 18th 1883.

Timaru Herald, 18 September 1883, Page 3 THE HEDGEHOG MYSTERY.
To the editor of the Timaru Herald, Sir — Seeing a letter and also a local in your columns of Saturday, 15th instant, as to the finding of a hedgehog by Mr R. Anderson, farmer, Pleasant Point, I went over to see the hedgehog found, which proved to be the pet one I lost some fourteen weeks ago. The said hedgehog was brought out from England some three years ago by a gentleman to Christchurch. After passing through several people's hands there, a friend of mine purchased him. After having him a short time he forwarded him to me, and after I had him a short time, some of the boys went to feed him and carelessly left the door of his pen open, so he quietly disappeared. Thinking he was about the place, I did not raise any alarm, as I felt sure that I should find him somewhere about the farm again. The place from where he escaped to where he was found is about a mile distant...
I am, &c, W. Stonyer, Jun.
Walton Mills, Pleasant Point, Sept. 17th, 1883.

Timaru Herald, 26 September 1883, Page 3 HEDGEHOGS.
To the editor of the Timaru Herald, — As I am the only person who has imported hedgehogs to New Zealand, I was interested in noticing your paragraph about one having been found at Pleasant Point, and that its presence there could not be accounted for. I received six from England in December 1881, and turned them out into my garden, but they soon strayed away ; — at least they disappeared, and the remains of one, the only female, was all that we could find of them. Although they stray much farther than one would suppose such a small animal was capable of doing, I think it is an impossibility that one could have travelled from Christchurch to Pleasant Point, and therefore, if the one found there belongs to my lot, it must have been taken by some one who had found it near my place.
I am, &c., Robert Wilkin, Christchurch, 24th Sept., 1883.

Outside Christchurch, hedgehogs were first reported at Maungati in 1907, Peel Forest in 1910-14, Bluecliffs (South Canterbury) in 1915-16, Kaikoura in 1933 and Darfield in 1937.

Hedgehogs hunt by smell, and are a major predator on eggs of riverbed breeding birds such as banded dotterel and black-fronted tern. Hedgehogs also prey upon lizards, particularly in cooler periods when lizard activity slows, and are known to prey upon rare insects like our robust grasshopper.

Where have all the hedgehogs gone? 30/11/2009
Hedgehogs are disappearing only from the North Island. Down the South Island there seem to be as many hedgehogs as ever. The Conservation Department has trapped thousands of hedgehogs in Otago and South Canterbury and we've counted plenty on the highway that runs between Kaikoura and Dunedin. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand says that hedgehogs were introduced here from Britain as a sort of garden helper and soon numbered more here than in their homeland, but it has been reported recently that numbers are down in both countries and no one knows why.

An urban hedgehog and baby December 2010. Cute!  

Feilding Star, 9 February 1915, Page 2
A resident of Timaru had a curious experience recently. Being disturbed on Sunday night by a scampering noise, as of something in one of the rooms, he got a carpenter to explore, the result being that a nest of hedgehogs was discovered underneath the buildings—two old hedgehogs and three young ones.

A baby hedgehog in Timaru taken on 1 March 2011 at 3.33pm. It is tiny when you compare it with the fence palings. The young are independent after seven weeks. Hedgehogs are a pest. They can't be trapped in winter because they hibernate. They eat anything including native birds' eggs, beetles, weta, grasshoppers, lizards and frogs.

Often found walking along tracks in the bush.

Hedgehogs tuck their head in and roll up into a ball when disturbed. 

Hedgehogs are a prickly problem

Prickly problem uncovered
The Press 22/04/2009
The humble hedgehog has been outed as public conservation enemy No 1 near the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. More than half of the 5029 predators caught over four years, across 20,000 hectares of the Tasman riverbed, were hedgehogs. "They're very underrated," said Twizel biodiversity programme manager, of the DoC. "They are probably a lot easier to trap, but in saying that there are probably more of them out there in the first place." The surprisingly adaptable creatures, introduced to New Zealand in the late 19th century, were found as high as 1000 metres above sea-level. The prickly creatures ate birds eggs but it was not known whether they carried off young birds. They also ate weta, beetles, grasshoppers and even lizards. A two-and-a-half year study by Landcare Research, published in 2003, bemoaned the fact that stoats, ferrets and possums got all the attention as predators. "They are like the bad guys in balaclavas during a bank heist," "Meanwhile, hedgehogs are the guys in the background, quietly opening the safe." The $745,000 Tasman Valley trapping programme - which is four years into its five-year term - aims to create a "mainland island" to protect riverbed wildlife. No poisoning is done in the valley. About 1100 traps were laid from Whale Stream up to, and including, part of the national park. Hedgehogs and stoats were 75 per cent of the trapped predators. Wild cats featured more prominently than possums or ferrets. The success of the trapping was measured by the breeding of native birds in riverbeds. This season, the rare wrybill had a 100 per cent success rate for hatching chicks in the Tasman riverbed and only one banded dotterel nest was hit by predators.

Timaru Herald 14 April 2010: The New Zealand falcon, karearea, is listed as a threatened species, but aside from eating sparrows, this falcon joins a number of volunteers working to keep the vermin count down in the national park. There had always been a population of falcons in the area, nesting just above the village. The number of pests being trapped by DOC volunteers is declining, which the department said could indicate the success of the trapping programme, or also the fact a wet autumn and spring last year helped lower the numbers.

A South Island Pied Oystercatcher chick on the Ben Ohau Wetland Track, Twizel 1st Nov. 2009, one of two with the mother squawking 20 feet away- see photo below. Both chicks were well camouflaged. Nests in sand scrapes on farmland or gravel banks in braided rivers. Remember in the breeding season between November and February many birds are nesting in riverbeds e.g. Banded Dotterels, Black fronted terns, Blackbilled Gulls. Avoid roaming the riverbeds at this time with dogs, 4x4 vehicles, gravel extraction, the nests are difficult to spot, their camouflage is superb.

Hutt News 15/12/2009
The Rimutaka Forest Park -to date, traps have caught 92 stoats, 535 rats and 46 hedgehogs using DoC humane kill traps over a 2500 hectare area.

Hedgehog the enemy of native species says DoC
Sunday Star Times 14/06/2009
Next time a hedgehog snuffles and shuffles its way into your garden, think of it as a rat that's the message from the DoC, which is about to send a "hedgehog swat team" to eradicate the prickly pests from two islands in the Hauraki Gulf. DoC spokeswoman says hedgehogs are chomping their way through native wildlife, and the public needs to stop seeing them as cute, harmless garden visitors. Scientists have found one hedgehog with 283 weta legs in its stomach, and now know that female hedgehogs in particular are catching and eating native skinks, perhaps because they need the protein boost for breeding. They also eat the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds such as the endangered black stilt. Because of their voracious appetites, hedgehogs are on DoC's seven-species hit list as it starts a complex, military-style cleanup of Rangitoto and Motutapu. Vallance says rats and mice will be dealt with first, to cut off the larger animals' food supply, then after a few months a "hedgehog swat team" will move in with a "ridiculously elaborate military-like arrangement of traps, over nearly 4000 hectares".

Every dead hedgehog and DoC estimates there will be hundreds will be delivered to University of Auckland biosecurity student Dave Tearne. Tearne is basing his masters degree on the life, and death, of these hedgehogs. In particular, he wants to prove that the method he used to count the hedgehogs a few weeks ago, when they were alive, is reliable enough to be used in future. He set up a grid of traps (which did not harm the hedgehogs) each night, then counted and tagged his catch in the morning by sliding coloured hollow tubes over their spines. Tearne was fascinated to find a hedgehog in a trap set on the five-metre long artificial causeway that connects the islands; proving the hedgehogs are trekking between Rangitoto and Motutapu. As DoC moves in with its kill-traps, Tearne will keep a body count, and weigh and sex the animals, to work out whether his estimation of the population was correct. Hedgehogs were brought here from Europe in the late 1800s to control garden pests such as snails and slugs, and DoC estimates there are now three per hectare in some areas of New Zealand. It has rigged cameras to watch bird nests on the ground in the Mackenzie basin, in the centre of the South Island, and found hedgehogs were responsible for one in five attacks.

Taranaki Daily News 24/04/2009
Hedgehogs are a prickly problem
They eat mostly invertebrates such as snails, slugs, millipedes and caterpillars, which is why they are considered a friend of gardeners, and they may also devour frogs. At one time, this knowledge of their penchant for ground dwelling birds eggs and chicks prompted a nationwide push for elimination. It was feared that hedgehogs were a real threat to our native ground dwelling birds of the forests and rewards were given to hunters producing hedgehog snouts as proof of their kills. Mature females are particularly active during the autumn months as they fill themselves up with high protein meals such as eggs and lizards, to put on condition after the breeding season and before winter hibernation. Males go to their winter beds earlier than the females and are less likely to eat birds' eggs or chicks. When conditions are good, there can be as many as eight hedgehogs per hectare, but usually they number between two and four per hectare.

Timaru Herald December 26 2017 
Hedgehogs preying on native species in the Mackenzie country
They were once known to assist us by preying on garden pests such as slugs and snails. However, European hedgehogs have been preying on some of New Zealand's native species in the Mackenzie country and further throughout the South Island. Video surveillance by the Department of Conservation of native shorebirds, located largely on the riverbed of the Mackenzie Basin, showed 9 per cent of all clutches were prayed on by hedgehogs. Research showed larger rates of hedgehog predation of clutches in the upper and lower Tekapo riverbeds in the Mackenzie Basin. The study carried out by Landcare Research also found one hedgehog from near Alexandra had 10 native skink lizard feet in its stomach after a single night's feeding. They are eating species we are trying to protect." Because of the increasing hedgehog population, Wildlife ecologist Jones said hedgehogs could be more of a risk to native species than first thought. He said it's possible they can produce up to two litters per year in warmer areas, as they do in some parts of their native Europe. "There's always been an assumption that they [hedgehogs] have one litter per year."There are massive numbers of them [hedgehogs] in the environment." The study also shows rare native invertebrates are being eaten by the hedgehog, and a single hedgehog gut from the central South Island was found to contain 283 weta legs. Jones said there's been a decrease in population of ground weta. This is backed up by the Landcare Research study, which found increasing rates of decline in the insect species.


Reuters 17/04/2008
Cute and prickly hedgehogs latest pet fad. Pet owners in Britain have been buying up hedgehogs, because the nocturnal animals are more active in the evening when busy office workers get home. The impact from poaching on the wild hedgehog population could be greater if mothers are removed from their litters during the Spring breeding season. The babies will die without their mum. They're completely dependent for four weeks."

Henhouse murder mystery: the hedgehog did it
The Press 22/01/2008
The hen was not dead and was trying desperately to get away. Clearly the hedgehog had captured the hen inside the hen house and dragged it for about four metres. There had been reports from England of hedgehogs attacking adult birds. An attack on a mature bird was "unusual", but "not inconceivable". Death by hedgehog was also "not a nice way to go" as hedgehogs lacked "killing teeth". Hedgehogs were insectivores with broad flat teeth for crunching up insects so when they killed larger creatures they "just bite and hang on till it dies", he said.

Hedgehogs make their nests in the undergrowth.  

On track to the Ben Ohau Wetland, Twizel. The sheet metal on the power poles in the background stops opossums from climbing. In the foreground the mother, a South Island Pied Oystercatcher [SIPO], waiting for us to clear out. She had two chicks hidden in the grass. In 2010 eight species of threatened birds, rare insects and 68 threatened plant species – 40 per cent of the Canterbury region’s endangered flora – are found in the Mackenzie Basin.

Peel Forest has an abundant bird life. Native birds most frequently seen and heard are wood pigeon, the rifleman, bellbird, fantail, grey warbler, silvereye and tomtit. The Rangitata riverbed provides a habitat for a number of waders and coastal visitors such as the black-billed gull and the pied oystercatcher.

Dec. 2020 "Surprised at all the birdlife now but DOC is doing a lot of trapping and the results are evident." AF.

Possums still top the list of creatures found dead on the roads, even though hundreds more of them were being killed a decade earlier. In 2011 the NZ possum fur industry had an economic value of $100 million dollars. Apparently trappers "pluck 'em and chuck 'em". Possum Merino fibre is turned into jerseys and vests, really warm, but remember the garment will stretch and possum fur is longer if collected in the winter months. Tanned pelts can be turned into leather goods. Currently, 2011, a hunter receives $20 for a large first grade pelt and $14 for a large second grade pelt.

Roadkill - the Australian opossum, on the road at Peel Forest, 1st Nov. 2009. Possums and ferrets can carry bovine tuberculosis which affects cattle and deer herds. It is estimated there are 35 million possums in New Zealand in 2017. Adult possums are typically 65 to 95 cm long and weigh 1.4 to 6.4 kg. They compete with native birds for habitat and for food such as insects and berries. They also disturb nesting birds, eat their eggs and chicks and may impact on native land snails. The damage to native forests is clear. Possums ignore old leaves and select the best new growth.

Press, 5 August 1893, Page 7
Opossums at Geraldine. Mr A. E. Hawkins, a member of the Geraldine Acclimatisation Society, liberated three pairs of opossums in the Geraldine Bush yesterday afternoon.

Press, 26 April 1894, Page 6
The following is an abstract of the annual report of the Geraldine Acclimatisation Society. Licenses were sold to the amount of £148 12s 6d, being an increase of £14 7s 6d as compared with last year. The heaviest item of expenditure is £100 for rangers. The credit balance is £225 7s 6d. A phieasantry has been erected in Victoria park, but the birds have not done as well as was anticipated. Twenty-four opossums have been liberated in various parts of the county. The sum of £25 9d was expended on the following seeds :—Perpetuated hybrid red chaff wheat, white variety; selected Hunter's, perpetuated white chaff red wheat, perpetuated April wheat, perpetuated winter barley, giant winter rye, winter oats, pedigree chevalier barley, perpetuated Goldthorpe barley, perpetuated black Tartar and white Tartarian oats, perpetuated Waterloo oats and Scotch potato oats. In addition to above the Council obtained half a hundredweight each of the Kidney Vetch and Trifolum incarnatum, thirty pounds of Seradella, twenty pounds of Thousand headed Kale, and three bushel, of Blue Lupins. Small quantities of each are procurable on application to the Secretary by anyone desirous of giving the seeds a trial. The Council liberated three thousand fontimalis fry in the Ohapi Creek and a number of perch given by the Canterbury Society were placed in the Albury streams.

Otago Daily Times 2 January 1904, Page 12
The overseer of the Geraldine Town Board found two more opossums floating in the reservoir last Thursday. They were scarcely dead when he fished them out, and they were fine, plump animals, which had apparently thrived well in the Geraldine Bush. It is believed that there are hundreds of opossums in the Geraldine Bush at the present time, all descendants of pair liberated some years ago by Mr Hawkins, on behalf of the Acclimatisation Society. It was wondered at the time whether the animals would thrive in Geraldine, but, judging by the number already accounted for they must have got along very well.

Colonist, 3 March 1906, Page 4
Opossums are becoming all too plentiful at Geraldine, and by reason of the damage they do, especially to gardens, it is hoped (says the "Timaru Post") that the prohibition against killing them will be removed by the Government.

OUT FOR THE COUNT - road kills - end of January - 1st week in April.  Road kill only last about three days on motorways, but up to few months on country roads. Birds are normally hit during the day, whereas mammals are hit at night. Scavengers - like cats - may eat on-site, or remove carcases entirely. Scientists are interested in numbers. Repeated, consistently observed roadkill counts made along the same route is an "efficient and relatively cheap" method for gathering data on population changes in particular animals over time, unobtainable by other means. Weasels are smaller than rats but are easier to spot being brightly coloured.

Timaru to Woodbury /Tripp Settlement/ Orari Bridge day trip -51kms 2010 - Feb. 1st week 2011- Jan. 31 2012- Jan. 28 2013 1st week in March 1st April 2014 March 2015 1 week in Feb. 2016  16 March 2017  2018 - 21 Jan. Total
Hedgehogs 4 2 (one was a baby) 2 2   1 squashed near Geraldine / Woodbury turn off. 3   3 17
Sparrows 2   1 1 1   1  1 sparrow entrance to Geraldine   7
Magpies 2               1 4
Starlings 2 1           3
Rabbits 2 2 1 1 on Woodbury Rd.    1 rabbit near Winchester bridge 1 8
Cats 1     1 1 (black, big, nr Geraldine)       1 4
Possum 1 (very squashed)       No possums, alas.     1 possum Woodbury Rd   2
Stoat             1     1
Unidentified birds   2   1 2 (squashed)   1 (black)   1 (brown) 7
Unidentified squashed animals   3 1 2           6
  Was surprised to find no possums on the Woodbury Rd like there usually is. Not much this year. Not even a possum up the Woodbury Road. Very sparse both ways this year.
Low tally due to road works Washdyke - to Temuka and Winchester -Geraldine.  Nothing on SH1    No road kill on SH 1…traffic volume increasing rapidly. More squashed hedgehogs than usual. No possums, alas.  

Roadkill stats: one hare or rabbit on Sunday, 7th Feb. 2009, Tuesday, 9th, one hedgehog, around Temuka.
Roadkill driving around Geraldine the first week of October 2017. Two hedgehogs and a couple of rabbits.
Drove from Geraldine to Fairlie early morning on 20th May 2018 and counted 6 dead possums as road kill with hawks cleaning them up, one stout and one rabbit. On the way back a dead young black pig, a roadkill, where the forestry starts around Kakahu. Also saw five dead pigs, (black, adult) on the roof of a Landrover just over the Allandale bridge heading towards Mt Michael. Four weeks earlier another young black pig, a roadkill, in the same spot, only slight damage to the underside of the car.

Bushtail possum road kill end of April 2014, in Geraldine, opposite Todd Park.

Road kill counts in nature studies
The Dominion Post 20/04/2009
Two scientists have been flat out on a road trip - logging road kill victims. The 1660-kilometre squashed-critter rally gave a valuable insight into animal population trends, uncovering a mysterious drop in the numbers of squashed hedgehogs and possums. "We wanted to show that road counts are a useful and relatively cheap way of measuring changes in the abundance of some animals," the scientist said. He and colleague completed road kill missions in 1984, 1994 and 2005, driving 1660 kilometres from Lower Hutt to Northland and back. The results of their 2005 study have been published in the latest New Zealand Journal of Zoology. "One of us drove while one recorded our combined observations in a notebook. Most animals were readily identifiable, but we turned back occasionally to examine puzzling remains."

Analysis at Victoria University showed roads carrying more than 3000 vehicles a day were a barrier to mammals, with less busy roads proving to be actually more dangerous. The 2005 results were compared with similar surveys dating back to 1949. They showed a recent drop in hedgehog numbers, with just 21 found compared with 112 in 1984. The hedgehog population has nose-dived since the 1950s. They used to be 40 times more abundant here than any other place in the world. Now they're about as abundant as the United Kingdom. The reason for the fall in hedgehog numbers was unknown, but mirrored a similar drop in Britain. Possum numbers fell from 602 in 1994 to 243 in 2005. Their numbers had fluctuated over time, with the population slowly moving north. We got evidence of possums spreading into the last corner of the North Island up near Kaitaia. The fall could be a result of more money being spent on possum control, the study said. The most common squashed mammals were possums, hedgehogs and rabbits, with fewer cats, hares, ferrets and stoats. Fewer birds were recorded, and only harrier hawks, pukekos and magpies were spotted regularly. One of the more unusual finds was an adventurous eel whose wandering had proved fatal.

The five most common North Island road kill victims in 2005 over a distance of 1660 kilometres on North Island roads.
Possum 243
Rabbit 123
Hedgehog 21
Magpie 9
Cat, Hare, Pukeko 5

June 11 2015  Stuff
A mob of sheep on Levels Plain Rd resulted in a crash on Thursday morning. About 20 sheep that escaped from a paddock just north of Timaru, were killed. The sheep had escaped from a paddock just before 8am Thursday. The farmer was trying to round them up when a female driver hit them. Sergeant Graham Sharp, of Temuka, said it was an unfortunate situation as it was low light and the driver had just rounded the corner on Levels Plain Rd. She had not seen the sheep and drove into them, he said. Police, ambulance and fire service attended the incident near Falvey and Dominion roads. The car was "smashed up" and the driver was sent by ambulance to Timaru Hospital. She was likely to have been suffering from shock, Sharp said.

Pest facts Hedgehog distribution

Trapping Programmes - Predators beware trap
The trapping programme was launched in 2005. In 2013 there were 1,400 traps and more than 10,700 predators have been caught to March 2013. Feral cats remain a concern.
Success should be measured by number of braided river birds thriving not by the number of predators killed.

DOC Tasman Valley trappings since March 2005 = area 20,000 hectares = 1,100 predator traps

Year to date end 2006 2009 to date end 2009 2010 2011 Ohau River 7mths Year ending March 2013
Hedgehogs 1088 530 3393 583 198 863
Stoats   506 332 1802 231    22 243
Cats   203 160   669 180   265
Ferrets   199   43   413    49 218  
Opossums     94   29   361    28     6  
Weasels    34     1   107      6     3  
Rats       2    16      5   11  
Norway rats      6        6      
Total 2124 1097 6767 1082 530 in 400+ traps  

New Zealand makes progress toward becoming predator free by 2050. Gene editing.

17 May 2013. The total tally stands at 11,268 predators caught in traps (1400) placed both sides of the Tasman Valley, from Whale Stream up to and including some of the national park. That number includes 15 Norway rats, 139 weasels, 481 possums, 652 ferrets, 5813 hedgehogs, 2594 stoats and 1559 cats.

2021 April trap with brown egg in bush.

Project Peel July 2020
Over the past 12 months, 75 traps [6 Doc 200s to go out and 36 Tims trap] had been set mostly in Dennistoun Bush and were checked every fortnight, totalling about 1500 inspections. 135 animals had been trapped including 35 rats, 17 mice, 45 possums, 6 stoats and 31 hedgehogs and one kitten had been caught. Twenty-three traps had been set off with nothing caught. Stray wild cats had been predating in the area but adult cats had managed to avoid the traps. There are also traps at Peel Forest camping ground. This past year was a mast year in that the trees have got much more seed than usual which attracted more birds and more predators.

Camera traps 2014

Sept. 11 2019
Te Manahuna Aoraki, a multi-agency project with the aspiration of turning the Mackenzie Basin into a predator-free area in 20 years, has just released its trapping results which reveal it has caught more than 860 animals in the January to August period. Of those, almost 350 hedgehogs and more than 300 mustelids - ferrets, stoats and weasels were trapped. Feral cats also made up a significant portion of captures with over 170 caught. The rest of the catches were rats and other predators. Had laid down more than 2200 kill traps in the Godley, Cass and Macaulay river valleys. Been able to introduce predator control into areas which previously didn't have any, so the sheer numbers caught don't surprise us.

Dec. 2019 Te Manahuna Aoraki recently celebrated its first anniversary, and has so far nabbed 431 hedgehogs, 350 mustelids, 172 feral cats, 83 rats and 34 possums, through traditional trapping methods. Te Manahuna Aoraki project manager said more than 2200 kill traps had been set in the Godley, Cass and Macaulay river valleys. It is a really labour intensive job. Ferrets and feral cats were common in areas with high rabbit populations. Cass Valley is where we are getting a lot of our trap catches, and hedgehogs are the predator we are catching the most of at the moment, Nov. 2019. Torrential rain in Dec. 2019 affected the predator control networks in the Cass and Godley river valleys. A trapping team was sent out to locate or replace flooded trap boxes.

Dec. 2020 with map. Te Manahuna Aoraki project, launched with the ambition of turning the basin area in South Canterbury into a predator-free zone by 2040, has trapped 2656 hedgehogs, 441 rats, 1839 stoats, ferrets and weasels and 477 feral cats since December 2018. Feral cats were probably the hardest to catch, due to their large home range. Male feral cats have a home range of 12 square kilometres and female feral cats have a home range of 3 square kilometres. DOC provided two conservation dogs to the programme, helped identify feral cat “hotspots.” There had been a huge range of volunteers from a variety of organisations that have contributed to the trapping programme.

2021 Te Manahuna Aoraki project now covers 60,000ha. Eliminated more than 10,680 pests in two half years. Hedgehogs 5,738. Mustelids (stoats, ferrets, weasels) 3222, rats 950, feral cats 770.

 The Courier October 7, 2021
A trio of retired volunteers laid 25 traps in Centennial Park, 12 months ago and have caught 154 possums, 54 rats, 4 mustelids and a hedgehog. There are now plenty of tuis and fantails. If you can't see them you can hear them. A neighbour has a trap on his property that backs Centennial park, and he checks it, rebaits and resets it. ‘‘There’s no predators for possums in New Zealand, so we’re becoming the predators for them. If we don’t keep coming, they’ll come back. Within two years they would be back to the same numbers as when we started.’’ said Mr Grigor.

Pockets of rabbits attracted predators such as cats and stoats. Cat numbers are quite scary because the cats became quite cunning and were difficult to catch once they became wary of a trap. It important to reduce cats, stoats and ferrets at the same time as reducing rabbit numbers. If the rabbits get down a bit in number the other predators then target the native birds even more.

 The rabbit population tends to drive the population of stoats, ferrets and cats. If not enough rabbits about they focus on riverbed birds.

Pests introduced: Clearing valley of predators  28 July 2006 Timaru Herald
Predator control in the Tasman Valley continues. Over the last month the Department of Conservation has continued to trap cats, stoats, ferrets, weasels, Norway rats, hedgehogs and possums. DOC rangers check more than 1000 predator traps. To date the rangers have caught 203 cats, 199 ferrets, 1088 hedgehogs, 506 stoats, 34 weasels, 6 Norway rats and 94 possums for more than 16 months and by reducing predator numbers in the Tasman Valley area DOC hopes birds such as kaki/ black stilts, wrybills and black-fronted terns as well as lizards and wetas will be able to flourish in the area.

Where stoats are dwelling in a forest environment, their most frequent prey are birds.

DOC catching more predators
The Timaru Herald 11/4/2009
Stoats, rats, possums and other predators are being caught in increasing numbers in the Mackenzie Basin, according to the Conservation Department. Twizel biodiversity manager said DOC had trapped more than 5000 predators in the Tasman Valley since February 2005, including 327 possums, 2537 hedgehogs and 1246 stoats. "We have about 1100 individual traps in the area, including wire-nettings and kill-traps. But I'm not surprised at the large numbers we have caught, as we're dealing with a huge area nearly 20,000 hectares." He said stoats and hedgehogs were a big problem. "Hedgehogs will eat birds' eggs, beetles, weta and grasshoppers, while some have even managed to prey on lizards," Mr Nelson said. "Stoats are incredibly adaptive. They eat a similar diet to the hedgehogs but will prey on young chicks and nesting adults as well." He said DOC had adopted a variety of new methods near Lake Tasman, including Conibear traps, which have been used in Canada to catch large predators. Mr Nelson said breeding numbers for native riverbed bird species had increased as a result.  

DOC Ranger at Twizel

The Timaru Herald 14/5/2010
2009 figures by DOC Twizel. Trapped included two rats, one weasel, 29 possums, 160 cats, 43 ferrets, and 332 stoats and 530 hedgehogs.  "They are a bit of an underrated predator," DOC ranger said. They don't predate just on birds nests, but they also regularly feed on lizards and invertebrates. DOC has put in more than 1000 predator traps surrounding the braided river bird habitat where species such as kaki/black stilt, wrybill and black-fronted tern reside. Ferrets are still coming up around the edges of Lake Pukaki. Since March, 2005, DOC have caught more than 6700 predators, including 16 rats, 107 weasels, 361 possums, 669 cats, 413 ferrets, 3393 hedgehogs and 1802 stoats.

Predators in the Mackenzie Basin: Their Diet, population dynamics and impact on birds. March 1987 report - Tekapo River. Conclusion- a predator guild dominated by ferrets, cats and harriers is less harmful to birds of riverbeds and wetlands, than one in which stoats are dominant. Poisoning of rabbits lead to increase pressure on nesting birds. Rabbits were actively hunted by ferrets and cats, appeared to provide a buffer to predation. Predation pressure on birds was lowest during the recovery of rabbit populations.

2011 Twizel Conservation Department set more than 400 predator traps within a kilometre radius in the Ohau River near Twizel as part of the Project River Recovery. 530 predators have been trapped within the last seven months, including 218 ferrets, 198 hedgehogs, 22 stoats, 11 rats, three weasels and six possums. Ferrets had become particularly prevalent due to the increase in rabbit numbers.
Hedgehogs were another particularly prevalent pest, one of the worst for nesting birds. They prey on nests and eggs, and can get into a lot of small areas.

Timaru Herald 6/09/2014
The Department of Conservation mass opening of 570 traps in the Tasman Valley in May netted 114 feral cats and two weeks in late August, resulted in 14 feral cats being caught. Traps were left open for 10 days during that period. The traps also catch ferrets, hedgehogs, stoats, weasels and possums. Once caught, the animals are dispatched humanely.

In 1987 DOC was born out of the ashes of the Forest Service, Lands and Survey Department, the Wildlife Service and the national parks portion of Internal Affairs. The Raukapuka area office in Geraldine territory covers, from the mountains to the sea, the area from the Waitaki to the Rakaia River, up to Mt Dobson in the south, and in the north as far inland as the top of the Southern Alps. A balance between bureaucracy and on-the-ground work. Health and safety it's still a focus. We've got people out there climbing in and out of helicopters, using chainsaws, walking around mountains doing stuff.

Twizel predator count night raiders DOC masher The Henry
Trapping programme Banks Peninsula  The weasel family - the mistake has been made before in New Zealand

The weasel family or Mustelids is a family of carnivorous mammals. In 1877, farmers in New Zealand demanded that ferrets be introduced into the country to control the rabbit population, which was also introduced. Concern was raised that ferrets would eventually prey on indigenous wildlife once rabbit populations dropped, and this is exactly what happened to New Zealand bird species which previously had no mammalian predators. Colonies of feral ferrets have established themselves in areas where there is no competition from similarly sized predators. It has been illegal to sell, distribute or breed ferrets in New Zealand since 2002 unless certain conditions are met. Stoats were also introduced into the South Island in 1884 control rabbits and hares despite warnings from scientists and ornithologist in New Zealand and Britain. In the old days many stations employed permanent rabbiters and kids used ferrets to catch rabbits. The flightless takahe was considered extinct for 50 years till 1948, when Geoffrey Orbell discovered a small population in the Murchison Mountains.  A flourishing stoat population cut the wild takahe population in the remote Murchison Mountains by 38 per cent from an estimated 160 to around 100 in 2007.  The rise in stoat numbers was caused by a big seed drop from beech trees last autumn. "The rats feed on the seeds, and the stoats feed on the rats." The Government took action, passing a new Rabbit Nuisance Act in 1882, and stoats and weasels were imported two years later to stop the spread of the rabbit. Ferrets mainly ate rabbits and the population in the Mackenzie Basin was probably slowly increasing alongside rabbit numbers was outside the trap area.  Less wary (on guard) than stoats, ferrets could often be seen on the road at night feeding on road kill but it is unusual to see them in daylight. Ferrets are were often spotted in riverbeds.

Timaru Herald, 27 October 1876, Page 2
George Grey's ''Noxious Animals Introduction Prevention Bill" is, we suppose, aimed at the Bill brought down in consequence of the Report of the Rabbit Nuisance Committee. That Report recommends, amongst other things, the employment of weasels as the best means of keeping the teeming swarms of rabbits within bounds compatible with sheep farming; Sir George Grey's Bill prohibits under terrible penalties the introduction or setting at at large of foxes, polecats, stoats or weasels ; and so far seems to contemplate the encouragement of the rabbit nuisance.

Marlborough Express, 21 April 1885, Page 3 AN ANTI-FERRET TESTIMONY.
The Naturalist, a periodical of natural history for the North of England, edited by Messrs W. D. Roebuck, F.L.S., and W. E. Clarke, F.L.S., in a recent issue regrets that Mr Allbones, of Brigg, has succeeded in landing nearly a hundred stoats and weasels in New Zealand, and is introducing further shipments. The journal, which is widely circulated and much read in scientific circles at Home, says :— " In this matter the New Zealand Government — which are otherwise noted for their liberality and sound judgment in matters scientific— have made a great mistake. The fauna of New Zealand is so peculiar and so interesting that it behoves that Government to do everything in their power to preserve it. The result of the importation of such blood thirsty little creatures will probably be disastrous to the native fauna. Their introduction seals, in all probability, the fate of such interesting but helpless creatures as the apteryx, the owl, parrot, and other wingless birds, which cannot but fall an easy prey to the new marauders. The mistake has been made before in New Zealand ; the rabbits which were formerly imported are now a complete pest, and over-run the whole of the colony, and it is to mitigate this pest that a fresh one is to be introduced. We trust that every New Zealander who values the integrity of the indigenous faunas will protest his utmost, and that the eyes of the Government may be opened before it is too late to remedy the evil. Doubtless we shall hear in a few years that the New Zealanders are at their wit's end to devise means for getting rid of weasels."

Timaru Herald
Christchurch, August 16 1889
The Aorangi brought a consignment of about 2000 weasels, which are consigned to the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company.

The Star June 3 1884 page 2. The Doric, which sails for Auckland and southern ports to-day, takes out about 1000 stoats and weasels, which have been trapped in various parts of Lincolnshire by a man named Allbones, a professional vermin catcher, who accompanies his pets to their destination. This man started with a similar number of "rabbit exterminators" last year, but they were all washed overboard in a gale save ten. The food for the present consignment consists of 1500 live pigeons, who in their turn are likely to eat about £28 worth of grain. Allbones receives 5s a-piece for every weasel or stoat he traps, but they have cost more than £1 a-piece before they are set free in New Zealand.

Taranaki Herald, 11 November 1884, Page 2
I read in the Wanganui Chronicle the other day that a Mr. Allbones was going to bring out 200 toads and weasels to New Zealand, and the Chronicle sensibly said it is to be hoped they will be all bones when they get here.

Timaru Herald, 31 October 1894, Page 4
Mr Clarke reminded the meeting that the Lincolnshire farmers had complained of the ravages of rats and mice, which multiplied because the stoats and weasels were caught for export to New Zealand.

North Otago Times, 19 May 1887, Page 4 An interview with Mr Allbones.
"They are always travelling, are stoats, and they will catch a hare. The hare can never get away from them, though she runs through hedges, and they bite down through the top of the head till they kill her, and they never take more than just the blood."
"Hard weather kill them in the ranges ? Not much. We get snow at Home that lies for weeks, and melts and freezes till it is all ice. But you don't find stoats and weasels the scarcer for it."

Our reporter asked about the number imported. "My son has brought over five shipments," said Mr Allbones, making 1160 stoats and weasels, and there is another shipment for Mr Rich, of Bushy Park, I think, of which most were drowned. For a shipment of 300 you want 4000 pigeons to be used on the voyage, and that would give you an idea of the way they would destroy the rabbits where they were thick. I had to go to Antwerp for the pigeons— couldn't have got them in England for anything like a reasonable price— and I bought them there 8d a piece easily enough. But they'd have thought I was crazed I'd asked for that number at home. They would come to about 10d a piece with the shipping charges." Mr Allbones says the stoats cost about 6s each in the Old Country, and the weasels about 5s.

Evening Express 22 January 1897 (Third Edition) Welsh Newspaper Online
Some years ago stoats, weasels, and ferrets were introduced into New Zealand with a view to exterminating the rabbits. Instead of this, however, they have themselves increased so greatly as to become almost as serious a pest as the rabbits. They do an immense amount of mischief among the lambs, and one farmer in Timaru recently had four lambs killed by these animals in one night, while five more were destroyed in the next few days.

FERRETS - Unwanted Imports.
19 August 2006 Timaru Herald
New Zealand now has the dubious record of having the most introduced mammals for a land this size. The record is dubious, as quite a number of these are pests, either damaging plants or wrecking havoc on our native wildlife. The worst of the predators are the three species of mustelids; stoats, ferrets and weasels. Until recently the South Canterbury Museum did not have any examples of these creatures, but thanks to some recent donations all this has changed, with specimens being brought in by members of the public. Recently the museum's total number of ferrets went from zero to five within two days. Three mounted specimens originally caught in the Mackenzie country were donated by one family, with a further two fresh specimens brought in the following day to be housed in the museum freezer until they could be mounted. Ferrets are the largest of the three mustelid species, reaching to over 500mm in length. They are easily distinguished from stoats and weasels by the larger size and colouration, with most individuals having a cream coloured coat with darker edging patches around the shoulders and head. Lighter forms and pink-eyed pale albinos are not uncommon. Ferrets were imported to New Zealand, along with stoats and weasels, in a misguided attempt to control the plagues of introduced rabbits that erupted in the 19th Century. Ferrets were released in large numbers from the 1880s. However, by the 1930s, their ineffectiveness as rabbit predators and their effect on other species was noted, and they were themselves declared a pest species. The ferrets found in New Zealand are descended from a domesticated form of the European polecat (Mustelo putorious). Polecats have been domesticated since Roman times, and have developed into the more domesticated ferret. This long association with humans is shown in New Zealand in that wild ferrets have proven relatively easy to tame, revealing their domesticated origin. In New Zealand, ferrets occur over much of the drier parts of the South Island and lower and central North Island. Studies have revealed that they prefer small mammals as prey, particularly young rabbits and rodents. However, they also take small birds, lizards and larger native invertebrates. New Zealand now has the largest known population of wild ferrets in the world. Whatever we might think of them, ferrets are now part of our fauna, along with more than 45 other introduced species of mammal.

Southland Times 1 July 1882, Page 2 Natural Enemies of the Rabbit.
The Timaru Herald supports the action of the Government in taking steps to secure for rabbit districts a supply of ferrets, weasels, and polecats, and mentions that one sheepowner in that district has been breeding ferrets and turning them loose for years past, and has pretty nearly succeeded by that means alone, in destroying the, rabbits on his run, where, previously, they swarmed in myriads. Our contemporary fancies, however, that ferrets are not by any means the best of their family for this purpose. They are not hardy, and they kill more for food than for the mere love of killing. Weasels, stoats, and polecats, on the other hand, can stand any climate, and their destructive propensity is insatiable. The weasel is said to be the most bloodthirsty of all animals, its love of slaughter having apparently no connection with the mere vulgar craving for food. The ferret is like a brigand, who murders a traveller for his purse ; but the weasel is like a conqueror, who slays his thousands for glory, and goes on slaying till he is too old to slay any more, or till he gets knocked on the head himself.

Timaru Herald, 26 September 1887, Page 3
To Editor of the Timaru Herald. Sir,  In your report of Mr Rhodes' meeting at Pleasant Valley, you state that questions of an unimportant character were asked. I consider that one question; I asked was very important, namely, would Mr Rhodes be in favour of some of the large sheep runs being cut up into section of sufficient area to carry 1000 sheep and to let these sections by auction. Every candidate talks of economy and retrenchment, but not one candidate in twenty gives you a new idea how to retrench. Now here is one, and yet you say it is unimportant. I stated my ideas on this subject at Sir Rhodes' meeting, namely, that it would be the means of introducing a new class of settlers, would increase the revenue of the country by the additional rent, would increase the products which the same country is now producing, would ; be the best means of stopping the rabbit pest, as population which would be increased is the best means of destroying the rabbits ; therefore not only adding to the revenue of the country but decreasing the colonial expenditure by doing away with the cost of rabbit inspectors. It is only a few months ago since nearly all my fowls, say 100, were destroyed by three ferrets. How they got here I have never been able to make out ; fortunately my dogs killed them. A few days ago one of my neighbours observed his sheep disturbed, and found on one of them a black ferret, hanging to its neck, and with the greatest difficulty was that ferret removed. Why if we continue to import weasels, stoats, and ferrets, instead of people to exterminate rabbits the country will be overrun with vermin in place of sheep, and the Timaru Herald says that it in unimportant. My opinion is this, is New Zealand of any value or is it valueless? An Act was passed in 1885 dealing with the sheep runs in New Zealand, but what is there to prevent this Act being repealed. No candidate appeal to speak freely about the sheep runs. Look at Otago, the greater portion of the sheep runs have become valueless, but I suppose it's unimportant. I am, &c, William Upton Slack, Woodside, September 20th. [The Timaru Herald never said that the subject was unimportant, though it appears that our Pleasant Valley correspondent, regarded it of unimportance in comparison with some other questions which were discussed on the occasion of Mr Rhodes' speech. Ed. T.H.]

Timaru Herald, 17 August 1889, Page 3
Some time ago a circular was sent to the inspectors and sub-inspectors of the stock department asking a series of questions, the replies to which have been published in a Parliamentary paper. Shooting, hunting with dogs, digging out, netting, trapping, fumigating with bisulphide of carbon, hand-working ferrets, clearing scrub, poison (phosphorised grain), liberating ferrets, stoats and weasels, flooding low lands from water races, erection of rabbit proof fencing.
Have you any recommendations to make ? — Continue, bonus to Maoris for skins taken on native lands; enforce sole of absentees lands to repay cost of clearing them of rabbits. Encourage introduction of the "natural enemy," especially the stoat. Turn out more ferrets. Turn out cats, stoats, weasels and ferrets. Forbid trapping on large estates for the purpose of supplying factories. Forbid trapping where the natural enemy has been turned out. Prosecute persons killing or capturing the natural enemy. Include wire netting among "legal" fences. Ferrets and nest should be used instead of traps. Include wire netting among "legal" fences. Ferrets and nets should be used instead of traps. Gorse fences should be better kept and gorse prevented from spreading, it is one of the greatest harbours of the pest. Stop trapping and hunting with dogs, rely on natural enemies. Improve the facilities for procuring properly mixed poison.
What progress has there been made? — Fifteen officers report decreases in the number of rabbits: three report increases — in North Wairarapa, Marlborough-Nelson, and Ohau Pukaki. Quantity of phosphorus used for Government purposes? — Total at eleven stations, 678lbs, (95lbs at Pukaki).
Quantity sold to private persons? — Total at five stations,402lbs, and 277 phosphorised grain. Quantity on hand 31st March  -Total 235lbs at twelve stations (1751bs at Pukaki Ferry).
Number of prosecutions — 81.
Number of convictions — 72.
Number of ferret breeders  — 64.
Number of ferrets turned out by Government  — 4768 (183 between Pukaki and Ohau; 1363 Pukaki and Ohau ; 1363 Oamaru district)— results satisfactory.
Number turned out by private persons — 6669 ferrets, 130 weasels and stoats; ferrets doing good, stoats and weasels showing little result.
Wild cats are reported to be doing good work in the King Country, and in the Lumsden district. Several inspectors condemn trapping and netting for factories, as tending to preserve rather than diminish the pest. South Canterbury Rabbit Fence.— The completed portion of this fence— about forty six miles— has proved an effectual check to the advance of the rabbit and it is now placed beyond all doubt that the fence, the whole of which will be completed in June, will save Canterbury from the Otago rabbits, if it is carefully supervised.

Star 7 September 1886, Page 3
It is alleged that a lamb has been killed at Stoke by a stoat. One stoat was captured at Stoke, though none have been liberated nearer than Marlborough.  

Ellesmere Guardian, 29 November 1927, Page 4
Stoats appear to be rapidly on the increase along the Rakaia river bed. Besides killing a considerable number of rabbits, they account for a good many quail, particularly at this time of the year when the birds are breeding. A shooter destroyed a stoat the other day when it was about to kill a quail. For some reason or other the bird elected to run instead of making its escape by flying. It is said that both weasels and stoats prefer feathered game to rabbits or hares.  


Pests reduced, penguins thrive
The Press 12/08/2009
White-flippered penguins are flourishing in a small area of Banks Peninsula thanks to a predator-trapping programme. In two years, the programme at Le Bons Bay has removed 285 hedgehogs, 83 rats, 61 possums, 37 feral cats, 24 weasels, 16 stoats, 10 ferrets and nine mice. Nine pairs of penguins have been recorded in the area where the birds were wiped out in the 1990s. White-flippered penguins are unique to Canterbury and are more endangered than the better-known yellow-eyed penguins. Conservationist the traplines were helping other native species recover. It takes consistently at least five years before the real impact of this work comes through.

Endangered birds at risk on beaches
Rodney Times 17/12/2009
It's not just toxic sea slugs beach visitors need to watch for this summer. New Zealand dotterels and variable oystercatchers both run the gauntlet with beach users and predators, but the New Zealand fairy tern is the most vulnerable. Fairy terns are struggling back from the brink of extinction, and their eggs are laid on the beach and are at risk from traffic, storms and predators. Only about 40 of the tiny birds remain, including 12 breeding pairs. Their only breeding grounds are at Waipu, Mangawhai, Pakiri, and Papakanui Spit at South Head on the Kaipara Harbour. While their numbers have increased from the 1980s when only three breeding pairs were left, their grip on survival is tenuous. Along with predators such as cats, dogs, weasels, stoats and even hedgehogs, storms and spring tides, and people's activities like driving on beaches are limiting their breeding success. People and wildlife can live together on our beaches as long as we follow a few simple rules.
These birds lay their eggs in a scrape in the sand, so are vulnerable when it comes to other beach users.
The Conservation Department advises people on the beach to leave eggs untouched because the parents probably aren't far away.
If a bird is acting agitated, move away. It may have a nest nearby.
The eggs can get overheated in a matter of minutes on a hot day, or chilled on a cold day.
People should stay outside fenced areas, and keep vehicles below the high tide mark.
Fishers are urged to bury fish scraps because they attract gulls which prey on eggs and chicks.
It is also vital to ensure dogs are on a lead at all times on beaches where New Zealand dotterels, oystercatchers and terns nest, so the department advises checking signs.

Loss of habitat puts gulls at risk
Waikato Times 05/01/2010
Of New Zealand's three species of gull, the black-billed gull is the only endemic (found only in New Zealand) gull.
They are similar in size to red-billed gulls, but their bills are black, and they are longer and finer in shape.
They have reddish-black legs and paler wings. Black-billed gulls mainly breed inland, beside rivers and lakes.
They nest in colonies, and make nest mounds of dry grass and twigs on open shingle. They lay one to four pale green-grey eggs from September to December. Both parents share incubation of the eggs. Within a day of hatching the chicks are left alone, and parents return to feed them by regurgitating food on to the ground. Fledglings leave the nest when they are 26 days old. The birds live about 18 years. Black-billed gulls eat small fish, whitebait and flatfish, and take earthworms and grass grubs from pastureland. They feed over river channels on the wing, taking cicadas and moths and also scoop fish and insects from the surface of the water. In winter they fly to estuaries and harbours to eat marine invertebrates and shellfish, or to parks for worms and human handouts. But black-billed gulls are declining in number. A New Zealand-wide count in 1996 found only 48,000 nests. The decline is mainly due to the destruction of their breeding habitat. The presence of hydroelectric schemes and irrigation schemes change water levels and limit the number of shingle bed islands where black-billed gulls like to nest. Weed infested riverbanks also provide cover for predators such as cats, rats, stoats, weasels and hedgehogs. They raid the gulls' nests and eat the eggs as well as chicks.  

Birds A-Z What N.Z. bird? Canterbury's coastal animals survey
Southern Black-backed Gull - are opportunists, a scavenger. It also feeds on the eggs and young of birds. Its protection was lifted in 1970. On farms they turn up at lambing and at calving time to take advantage of dropped afterbirth and any weak or dead animals.

The Red-billed Gull in ChCh in Nov. 2009. The legs and feet are red and the bill a brighter red. Seagulls can live up to 30 years. About 1500 red-billed gulls bred in nine small colonies on Banks Peninsula, but thousands more flocked to the city to feed in places like the Avon-Heathcote estuary. Many came from the large breeding colony at Kaikoura. Christchurch is a major post-breeding wintering site for birds like the red-billed gull. A young red-billed gull has a black beak. Red-billed gull: 2014 fewer than 100,000 birds. Expected to fall by 50 to 70 per cent in the next 30 years.

The Black billed gull is endangered. Photo Tokaanu Wharf at the southern end of Lake Taupo, North Iskland in December 2020. The gulls would lay their eggs on the old wharf and the eggs would roll into the water. The trout where having a good feed. DOC decided to put old bread crates down layered with stones and this seems to work.

Life at the Water´s Edge
Springtime in the South Island. A pair of Variable Oystercatchers on a Moreaki boulder, Nov. 2009. They are native to N.Z. Once mated they really divorce. Can live up to 27 years. Blacker birds are more common in the south. They nest near the shore, not like the SIPO that nests on farmland. They will let you know if you get to close to a nest or chick, sometimes aggressively. 

 Hedgehogs don't like cattle stops.

Timaru Herald,
17 January 1872, Page 4
Recently, Mr W. K. Macdonald, of the Orari, brought from the breeding ponds in the acclimatization gardens, Christchurch, fifty young trout, which, with the exception of two which have died, have been since turned out m a creek apparently admirably, adapted for their, growth and preservation. With the exception of a dozen fish turned out at the Point by Messrs Meek and Howell, some time since, but which Lave not been seen for months past, Mr Macdonald's venture may be said to be the first (which, from the number of the fish, is likely to prove successful) made in South Canterbury.

Star 3 March 1873, Page 2
Acclimatisation Society. A special meeting of the Council of this society was held in the Gardens, at 11.30 a.m., on Friday. Present Messrs C. R. Blakiston (in the chair), Rolleston, Boys, Hill, Powell, Bird, Carrick, Broadloot, L. Harper, Wynn Williams, Farr, and Johnson (curator). The meeting was called for the purpose of distributing the birds brought out by Mr Bills. The following is the number of birds that has arrived safely 64 partridges, 31 rooks, 95 goldfinches, 6 bramble finches, 9 lapwings, 34 yellowhammers, 41 hedge sparrows, 62 blackbirds, 28 thrushes, 40 starlings, 120 redpoles, 15 skylarks, 1 pair curassows, 1 pair Mandarin ducks, 1 pair silver pheasants, 1 pair golden pheasants. It was decided that the birds should be distributed in the following manner, those to whom they are sent having kindly undertaken to look after them on behalf of the public.
Partridges One-fourth to Mr C. Harper, Brackenfield one-fourth to Mr J. Palmer, Burnham one-fourth to Mr C. Reed, Ashburton one-fourth to Mr Rhodes, Seadown.
Rooks: It was decided that these should be turned out in the Gardens, when ready.
Goldfinches; One-third to Mr Potts, Governor's Bay one-third to Mr Perry, Timaru one-third to Mr Rhodes, Purau.
Bramblefinches: It was decided that these should be turned out in the Gardens.
The lapwings were handed over to the care of Mr Geo. Gould.
Yellowhammers: One-half to be turned out in the Gardens one-half to Mr L. Harper,, Ham.
Hedge-sparrows: One third to Mr Perry, Timaru one-third to Mr L. Harper, Ham one-third to Mr Boys, Rangiora.
Blackbirds: One-fourth to Mr Perry, Timaru one-fourth to Mr Boys, Rangiora one-fourth to Mr Phillips, Rockwood one fourth to Mr L. Harper, Ham the odd cockbirds to be retained in the Gardens.
Thrushes: Same distribution as blackbirds.
Starlings: One-half to the Gardens; one-half to Mr Boys, Rangiora.
Redpoles: One-fourth to Mr Perry, Timaru one-fourth to the Gardens; one-fourth to Mr C. Reed, Ashburton; one-fourth to Mr Boys, Rangiora.
The larks were to' be handed over to the care of Mr C. Reed, Ashburton. The birds have arrived in splendid condition, and the Council are very much leased with the importation. A gratuity of two. guineas was voted to Mr Deans, curator of the Otago Acclimatisation Society, for his assistance in bringing the birds from Otago. A special vote of thanks was passed to the Otago Acclimatisation Society, for the trouble they had taken in the forwarding of the birds to Canterbury.  

Timaru Herald, 17 May 1876, Page 3
We learn that quite recently two coveys of Californian quail were seen on Mr Wigley's run, Opuha, one numbering 52 and the other 62 birds. It will be remembered that eight brace were liberated on the run last September, so that they must have thriven wonderfully. As the two coveys were seen some 8 or 9 miles apart it is hardly probable that they were the same.

Ashburton Guardian, 23 December 1887, Page 3 THE CALIFORNIAN THISTLE
The Californian thistle, about which there has lately been so much talk, has been found in considerable quantity in the neighbourhood of Temuka. Specimens of it are to be been at the Temuka Road Board office, and farmers who are as yet unaware of the appearance of the plant will do well to make themselves acquainted with it. The specimens in question have been furnished by Mr T. Parke, of Milford, and he deserves all praise for the trouble he has taken to bring the matter into notice. In is told that the plant is more difficult to eradicate than any of the other now numerous noxious weeds that farmers have to contend with. The roots are tough and jointed, and the smallest portion left in the soil is sufficient to produce a plant. The ordinary methods of scarifying or hoeing are thus comparative useless. Mr Fassell, of the Land Office, Timaru, and Mr Murphy, of the Christchurch A. and P. Association, Invite farmers to correspond with them on this subject, with the view of steps being taken for its eradication. It will doubtless also have been noted that Mr Mackenzie, the member for Clutha, has moved in the matter in the House of Representatives, as bearing on the subject, the following letter sent to Mr Murphy by Mr W. Thompson of Burnham may be interesting: — " Dear Sir, I see the question of the Californian thistle has been brought before your Association. I presume this thistle is similar if not the same, as the Canadian thistle, and if, so save us from It. I spent some years in Upper Canada, and there it takes possession of the land, especially if the soil is good it grows from three to six feet high, and as thick as wheat, and rooted to a depth of ten feet where the soil will admit. To eradicate this pest is next to impossible, as I think every inch of the roots will grow, therefore to work the soil only favors Its growth. If you wish to see the thistle master of the situation, take a trip to Upper Canada and travel along the banks of Lake Ontario from Kingston to Toronto, and there you trill see the thistle in its home. As a pest I would place it against all our other weeds here."—"Temuka Leader"  

North Otago Times, 16 February 1891, Page 4
In March, 1885 Mr G.M. Thompson in the NZ Journal of science says the Otago Acclimatisation Society liberated 93 females (queens) bumble bees in the neighborhood of Christchurch. They appeared to have established themselves at once, and spread very rapidly so that they have now been reported from Kaikoura in the north to Invercargill in the south. They were unable apparently to cross Cook Strait on their own account, but specimens have been repeatedly liberated in the North.

North Otago Times, 15 April 1892, Page 1
The fertilisation of plants can in some cases only be effected by a particular species of insect. Bumble bees are necessary in order to enable red clover to produce seed, Field mice are the foes of bumble bees, and destroy their nests underneath the ground. Cats are the enemies of field mice ; and thus, if cats should be decimated, either in consequence of penal taxation, often pressed upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or by any other scourge, there would be such an increase in the number of field mice that bumble bee would be exterminated, and fields of clover would lie in barren hopeliness, unable to produce a future crop. Or, again, are you acquainted with the result of the well-meant; but ill-considered introduction of the rabbit to our Australian colonies  The gift became a curse under the changed conditions of animal and vegetable and human life at the antipodes, and no parallel to a Hares and Rabbits Bill would serve to keep down the terrible pest. So, again, in the vegetable world, the consequences of a single act can often not be gauged except by imaginative foresight. The man who carried watercresses to New Zealand and not read 'Jack and the Bean Stalk.' Wallace tells us how this humble and tasty weed, transplanted to its now home, shed its appetising qualities, and, growing with rampant vigor under changed conditions of climate and soil, forms stems 12ft long, and blocks mighty rivers, instead of filling the baskets of the industrious hawker."

Ashburton Guardian, 14 June 1894, Page 2
The Timaru Herald says: Mr Catchell, who has been travelling in the Geraldine district during the past few days, brought down from the village of Woodbury some specimens of broom covered with dodder, a parasite which roots itself in the bark of certain plants and lives upon them, to the extent sometimes of killing its support. In a part of the village the fences of gorse and broom are, he informs us, being killed by the dodder. Hot water has been tried upon it, without much success. One of the specimens is a bundle of dodder flowers from the top of a bush of broom. The dodder has sometimes occasioned great loss in crops of peas and beans and clover in Europe.   

Star 10 December 1897, Page 3 SMALL BIRDS.
There are unmistakable signs (says the Temuka Leader) that the small birds are going to prove a very serious nuisance this year. Their ravages so far are reported to have eclipsed those of former year. They have been particularly keen on, small seeds, and we have heard of persons who have had to sow mangolds a third time. This year they have also made a raid on a product which in former years was allowed peaceably to come to maturity — peas. The destruction made by the "plague" on peas is seen to the best advantage at the Chinese garden, where a large area of them has been almost completely destroyed. The pods have been ripped open, and their contents consumed by these feathered pests. Orchards are also suffering severely.

Star 29 December 1897, Page 2
THE SMALL BIRDS NUISANCE. The Temuka Road Board yard on Friday afternoon presented a very animated appearance for several hours, while numbers of boys were delivering up their "takings" of small birds' heads and eggs. The Temuka Leader says that one thousand dozen were delivered by the youngsters, and it was feared for a time that they would "break the bank."

Nelson Evening Mail 15 May 1907, Page 1
I was shown to-day (writes the Winchester correspondent of the Lyttelton "Times") a fine healthy specimen of that great Australian scourge, the Bathurst burr. The specimen was found growing at the Smithfield wool-scouring works, Winchester, by the proprietor, Mr H. E. Smith. There is no doubt as to the plant being the Bathurst burr, as Mr Smith has has long experience of it on New South Wales and Queensland sheep stations. Some eight or nine years ago a vessel, the Strathgiff, laden with Australian wool for England, caught fire and put into Port Chalmers, where the hold was flooded and the fire quenched. The wool was sold. Among the buyers was the late Mr D. M'Caskill, of Winchester, who sent some of it to Mr Smith's works to be scoured, and in this wool were some of the burrs. About three years ago a plant made its appearance, but was killed by the frost. This year the plant above mentioned has grown. The seed has evidently germinated after lying eight or nine years in the ground.

New Zealand Herald, 19 January 1924, Page 1
Eggs of an Australian wasp that is parasitic on sheep maggot-flies were brought to New Zealand from New South Wales in 1922. The adults, when they were hatched out, were distributed in North Canterbury, Timaru, Blenheim, Hawke's Bay and Whangarei, where sheep maggot-flies are particularly troublesome. The Hon. G. M. Thomson states that this wasp is parasitical on the blue-bottle and the common house fly, as well as on sheep maggot-flies. Another Australian wasp, Polistes Tasmaniensis, which makes clusters of papery cells, has ranked as an introduced member of the Hymenoptera in New Zealand for many years. It is very plentiful in North Auckland, is going south, and five years ago was reported from Dunedin and Waipori. It is stated that males of the common European wasp, now, apparently, introduced into New Zealand, fertilise females while flying high in the air, and then die, often within a few hours. Fertilised females hibernate during the winter under stones, logs, or moss. In the spring, each female selects a burrow or hole in the ground, in which she makes a home. She uses small fibres of old wood, which she gnaws and kneads and mixes with a secretion from her salivary glands, until a pulp is formed. Cup-like cells are hung from the roof of the cavity, and an egg is laid in each cell. In that way, a new wasp community is established. It was with a female of this species, Vespa vulgaris, by the way, that Sir John Lubbock conducted experiments which satisfied him of this insect's industry.

Auckland Star, 20 November 1933, Page 6
The liberation in New Zealand of a weevil for the control of gorse is notified by Dr. David Miller, entomologist of the Cawthron Institute, in a letter to Mr. G. Barclay, of Waihaorunga, near Waimate. In his letter Dr. Miller states: "The weevil has been liberated in our grounds at the institute here and at Burnside, near Dunedin. The object of this is to establish the insect and to rear sufficient supplies under natural conditions from which distributions can be made to other centres. For. the first time since the liberations were made in Nelson we discovered that the insect had established.  

Washdyke lagoon from the south. Taken 3.45 pm. 17th August 2011 from the Bridge St. bridge, Timaru.
4 English Grey (domesticated geese), numerous Red Billed Gulls and the larger Southern Black-backed Gull and a gaggle of Canada geese (about 18)

Lyttelton Times, 2 April 1862, Page 4
Presents for New Zealand.—The Kate, which sails this afternoon for Auckland, has on board three emus, which, we understand, are a present from Thomas Holt, Esq., M.P., to his Excellency Sir George Grey, Governor of New Zealand. There are several black swans on board, a pair of which, we believed, are likewise intended as a present to his Excellency from another gentleman

Timaru Herald, 12 April 1871, Page 2 Black Swans. — We have been informed that some of these birds have been recently shot on the Washdyke lagoon. It would be an act of public good if the person who shot these birds was informed against and punished.

Otago Witness 20 March 1901, Page 51
Complaints reach us from pretty well all parts of the district (says the Timaru Herald) that wild ducks are being already shot at by the pot-hunters. Even on such waters as the Milford, which are protected by law. and the ranger is supposed to be specially on the watch, there is shooting almost every night.

Grey River Argus 7 August 1919, Page 2
The Timaru Herald reports that the wild geese which the Canterbury Acclimation Society liberated at the Washdyke sanctuary some few years ago have all disappeared, though no one knows when or where the went.

Little blue penguins
In 2010 little blue penguins have chosen to breed along Timaru rock walls. They've been breeding there for the last few years. About a dozen now living on the edges of Timaru. Once they start breeding the young ones keep coming back, so they will build up over time. When the penguins are young they feed out at sea and return for the breeding season from November to about March. In late March they moult and disappear out to sea until their feathers grow back. The little blue penguin is the smallest penguin species, growing between 35 to 43 centimetres tall. They can be found around New Zealand and southern Australia. It is thought 50,000 to 100,000 of them live in New Zealand. Dec. 2012 Timaru count -50.

White flippered penguins

Long-tailed bats hibernating in farm buildings near Geraldine
Pest research

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