A potential sighting of a stoat on Great Barrier Island has the Department of Conservation immediately on the trail to ensure resident endangered birds are protected.
Until now, the Hauraki Gulf island has been considered free of the predator pest, and the reported sighting has set off alarm bells, because the island has significant populations of endangered birds which would be easy prey for them.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) sent a predator detection dog straight away.
DOC operations manager George Taylor said the potential sighting warranted an immediate response.
"With the speed stoats can cover the ground, it is vital to get on their trail as early as possible," he said.
"Getting a positive indication of stoat presence from the dog is the fastest way for us to know we have a problem and to start planning how to deal with it."
DOC and the Auckland Council have set up a network of trail cameras, tracking tunnels and traps which, along with the dogs, will try to confirm and hopefully eradicate any stoats that have made their way onto Great Barrier Island.
Auckland Council incident controller Jonathan Miles said it was a reminder of why it's important visitors to the Hauraki Gulf island check their gear and vessels for pests.
"Stoats, ferrets, weasels, plague skinks and even Argentine ants rely on people to transport them to our islands, so it's up to people to make sure they are not unwittingly introducing these devastating pests by thoroughly checking their gear and vessels before they leave the mainland."