26 Nov 2022

Albatross security defended after disappearance of eggs

4:07 pm on 26 November 2022

First published on Otago Daily Times

The albatross spends several years away feeding in South American waters before returning to Taiaroa Head to find a mate.

Tairoa Head is home to the world's only mainland royal albatross breeding colony (file picture). Photo: Department of Conservation

The organisation that operates the Taiaroa Head albatross colony has defended the quality of its fencing following criticism from a former colony head ranger.

Security at the only mainland royal albatross colony in the world has been under intense scrutiny since four eggs vanished from the colony a fortnight ago.

Police are assisting the Department of Conservation to investigate the disappearance, which is not believed to have been caused by a predator.

Earlier this week Lyndon Perriman, who left his former role as the colony's head ranger in 2016, told the Otago Daily Times that the Otago Peninsula breeding grounds, on Otago Peninsula, had had a 2m barbed wire topped security fence in place - a barrier that had since been removed.

"The fact that this has happened is pretty shocking, but the job for somebody to go in there and actually gain access to the nests has been made a lot simpler with the removal of that security fence."

The colony was a nationally important site and needed greater resources to ensure it was secure, he said.

The colony, at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head is overseen by joint management body Te Poari a Pukekura (TPP), which is made up of representatives of Otakou Runaka, Korako Karetai Trust, DOC and Dunedin City Council.

DOC coastal Otago operations manager Annie Wallace said that TPP had funded a new fence in stages over the past few years to replace the old fence, which she said was mismatched and needed regular maintenance.

"No fence will be totally impenetrable, but the current fence provides security for the site, protects areas and wildlife that is sensitive to human disturbance, and keeps rabbits out."

The operation had been successful in recent years and in the 2020-21 season a record 30 albatross fledged from the colony, Wallace said.

"The current management and operations are working well and the toroa colony has been successful in recent years."

DOC and the police were continuing to investigate the incident, she said.

"We are currently reviewing security camera footage from several sources and await the outcome of this work."

This story was originally published by the Otago Daily Times.

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