COMMITTED volunteers have been carrying out predator control on Lochaber Station to protect the highly threatened blue ducks/whio.
Over the past weekend, coinciding with the end of Conservation Week, Orari River Protection Group laid more predator traps to conserve this native species.
A small number of these birds live in the Orari catchment. Volunteer co-ordinator Bruce Allan is clear on the need to protect them.
“Blue ducks are very special as they are more endangered than kiwi.”
Originally 55 predator traps were loaned by Environment Canterbury (ECan) and the Department of Conservation (DOC). These are now being replaced using a grant from the Lotteries Board. The group has bought 160 predator traps, which have enabled them to increase the area of blue duck protection. Traplines are checked, baited and reset as necessary on a monthly basis.
Volunteers spent two days at Lochaber placing and setting traps.
Mr Allan said the Harrisons of Lochaber Station had been very supportive of the project.
Blue ducks face a high risk of extinction in the wild and are a nationally endangered species. Factors such as the modification of waterways, loss of waterside vegetation and the introduction of mammalian predators have led to a dramatic decline in their numbers and distribution. The species is now largely restricted to forested catchments in the north and west of the South Island and central parts of the North Island.
In the last six months the group have caught six cats, six stoats, 10 rats, three possums, two hedgehogs and a weasel.