Dramatic increase in Blue Duck numbers

The number of Whio – blue duck – are increasing on the Tongariro River thanks to the work of a charitable trust and use of Goodnature pest traps.

As New Zealand’s Blue Duck (Whio) population continues its desperate fall, one community conservation group is bucking that trend in stunning fashion through the use of Goodnature self-resetting stoat traps.

When the Blue Duck Project Charitable Trust began their rescue programme in 2008 they had just two breeding pairs of blue duck (whio) on the Tongariro River.

This year they’ve grown that to 22 pairs, of which 11 pairs hatched 40 ducklings this season – an 1100 per cent increase in numbers.

Key to this success has been constant control of stoat numbers. The trust has established 26km of protected river habitat using a combination of Goodnature A24 self-resetting stoat traps and DOC 200 single-action traps.

More ducklings

Local ecologist and trust co-founder Nick Singers says since the introduction of the A24 self-resetting traps, blue ducks have produced significantly more ducklings than compared to when the trust solely used DOC 200 traps.

“We’ve observed that in the area covered by the A24s, the breeding pairs produced twice as many ducklings this season as compared to the section of the river covered by DOC 200s.

"The self-resetting nature of the A24s means they can kill multiple times, which means they provide greater protection from stoats in between times when we are able to check and reset traps,” says Nick.

Goodnature A24 traps are New Zealand designed and made. They use CO2 gas canisters as a power source and reset themselves to strike up to 24 times during six months.

The trust was set up by Garth Oakden from Tongariro River Rafting, Craig Morey from Parklands Motor Lodge and local ecologist Nick Singers after four blue duck were found wandering in the area.

Garth says local support behind the blue duck project has been key in growing the number of whio on the river with support coming from Tongariro Prison inmates and local volunteers.

Recovery mode

With only 2500 blue ducks left in the wild, Goodnature founder and director Stu Barr says the significance of this result can’t be underestimated.

“What people need to know though, is that moving from survival mode to recovery mode can easily be achieved when communities come together like the Blue Duck Project have,” says Stu.

“Eight years ago they could have left those two pairs for someone else to protect, but instead they did something amazing about it.”

There are an increasing number of community, government and business-led conservation projects using Goodnature technology across New Zealand.

A great example of tourism and conservation coming together is the award-winning Rotorua Canopy Tours. “The zipline company showcases our native heritage and the benefits of their 200ha Goodnature trap network. “

The two companies are sharing a joint stand at the 2017 Mystery Creek Fieldays Lifestyle pavilion where they’ll be showing how attendees can make a difference in their backyard – however big. Visit them at Site: LS43.