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Secretary Island Translocation

Secretary Island, at 8140 hectares and now with stoats and deer at very low levels since trapping began in 2005, has become an important island refuge for threatened species.  There are some good alpine areas for rock wren...

In Autumn 2008 Megan Willans and her colleagues at DOC Te Anau translocated 9 of a projected 40 rock wren to Secretary.  The target of 40 was to give good genetic diversity and birds were to be caught from several areas in the Murchisons.  The work is exacting, requiring good weather for bird mist-netting and helicopter operation.  The birds are kept in boxes for a maximum of 2.5 hours and hard-released on Secretary near the top of the island.  The timing of transfer was changed compared with the Anchor translocation, in order to allow the adults to recover from the breeding season, but before the weather deteriorated.

Megan was delighted to report that 4 of the 9 were re-sighted during a quick monitoring trip in late 2008.  She also saw one of the females carrying nest material. The remaining birds were moved over the following two years- total translocated: 40.

Bird translocation is not something to be taken lightly.  Proposals require extensive review and sign-off, and catching, care, transport, release and monitoring need meticulous planning.  Make no mistake, sentencing birds to transportation for life for the good of their kind is a difficult decision.  Release day is invariably an emotional occasion.


Funded by Fauna Recovery New Zealand ($40,000).  Great support from Fiordland Helicopters with some of the cheapest helicopter time on the planet billed to the project (Kim, we did notice!)