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DOC rangers catch rat on Tiritiri Matangi Island

DOC ranger Polly Hall holds the rat that sparked an 18-day search.

Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers have trapped and killed a rat on wildlife sanctuary, Tiritiri Matangi, after a search that lasted 18 days.

The operation to catch the rat was sparked by a sharp-eyed volunteer from the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi, who spotted rat tracks on ink pads in two tunnels on the island, on January 7.

DOC the next day, launched a seven-day-a-week operation to catch the rat, including bringing in a team of rangers, specialist conservation dogs, 50 additional traps and at least 60 more tracking tunnels.

The rat was found dead in a trap at Hobbs Beach at 6am on Friday, January 26. It has been sent to Auckland for scientific analysis.

Acting DOC Auckland inner islands operations manager John Galilee says everyone is thrilled to have caught the rat, which posed a serious threat to the native birds and other wildlife.

Rats eat the eggs and chicks of native birds, as well as lizards and weta.

Tiritiri Matangi has been free of rats and other animal pests since 1993. It’s home to a wide range of threatened native birds including takahe, Little Spotted kiwi and kokako as well as tuatara, weta and native lizards.

Mr Galilee says tracking tunnels will continue to be checked as part of ongoing biosecurity measures.

“The systems are in place because there’s an ever-present risk of a rat, mouse or other pest animal making it to the island,” Mr Galilee says.

“We want to remind boat owners to make sure there isn’t a rat or a mouse stowed away on their vessel, whenever they’re heading out to sea in the Hauraki Gulf.”

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