By Liu Chen
The search is continuing for a stoat that's been sighted on the previously stoat-free Great Barrier Island.
The first sighting of a stoat was reported on 4 January and two more sightings were reported last week.
Pest-detecting conservation dogs were sent to the Hauraki Gulf island and traps have been laid over 200-hectares of land, with one trap per five hectares, Auckland Council incident controller Jonathan Miles said.
Mr Miles said a stoat had not been found yet, but the team will keep hunting until Friday before discussing the matter with experts.
"Our foot is still on the accelerator. We keep open-minded. We take all of those sightings as important and we'll keep up the efforts."
He said the pest not only has the potential to take out all ground-nesting birds, they also climb trees which can put birds, their nests and chicks in danger.
"Stoats are a major predator. The actual destruction that they can cause to our natural species will be immense on that island."
The hunt is a collaborative effort between the council and the Department of Conservation, with both putting in lots of resources, Mr Miles said.
"We're treating this extremely seriously as we do with any island incursion."
Mr Miles said they need the public to work with them to protect the Hauraki Gulf and encouraged people to report any sightings.
"A lot of our islands are pest-free or don't have some of the pests other islands have, so any sightings are really important and we'll treat them extremely seriously."