27 Aug 2018

Hunters turn conservationists to help save blue duck

5:28 am on 27 August 2018

A group of hunters have laid down their guns to hike into the Kaimanawa Forest Park to lay more than 100 traps to help protect the country's only native torrent duck.


Photo: Wikicommons

The whio or blue duck numbers have been steadily dwindling and getting close to endangered status. It is estimated that there are only 3000 left.

The population has been hit hard by predators, such as stoats, rats and possums.

A recent survey by the Kaimanawa Hunter Liaison Group found only one breeding pair at the Kaipo and Oamaru Streams within the forest park.

Last weekend a group of the hunters returned to the park and laid out 108 self-resetting traps made by conservation technology company, Goodnature.

The traps reset up to 24 times before needing to be serviced.

The hunters group has been working closely with the Department of Conservation and they raised $20,000 through sponsorship and donations to carry out the work.

Gary Harwood, part of the group, said hunters were conservationists too.

"We just don't go in there to shoot things.

"We enjoy seeing a healthy environment and seeing our native species."

Mr Harwood said over time hunters have been seeing fewer whio in the park.

The group wanted to get involved in predator control within the park.

Mr Harwood said hunters could get into places off the beaten track.

"We see environmental impacts of predators that other people don't get to see.

"Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and a very positive experience doing something like that, that is going to work."

Even though the traps kept on working for about six months before needing to be refilled, his group intended to go back into the park every two months to count predators deaths, Mr Harwood said.

"We can check on the blue duck numbers as well."

He describes the work as a long-term project, the results of which would be seen in four-to-five years.