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Trapping programme resumes to protect rare birds

Environment Canterbury will resume its trapping programme at the Ashburton River mouth following an internal review focused on safety.

The trapping programme provides protection from predators for endangered birds that nest in the area. It is implemented by community volunteers under Environment Canterbury supervision.

As part of the review, the regional council spoke to the owners of a small dog which was caught in a pest trap on the south side of the Ashburton River earlier in November 2017 and subsequently died from its injuries.

Ashburton Zone Manager Janine Holland said staff and volunteers are very motivated to ensure the safety of people and their animals in the vicinity of the traps next to the Hakatere community and Ashton Beach.

“We now have clear signage on the southern and northern sides of the river mouth advising of the trapping programme. Additionally we have sprayed around, and highlighted, the trapping sites with pink ribbon to make their locations obvious.”

“Traps will be moved away from the carpark area at Ashton Beach and relocated closer to the river mouth. The aim is to provide a greater buffer zone between the public and our traps, while ensuring protection for the endangered species that nest in this area. Ashburton people understand how important this area is as a breeding ground for nationally endangered black fronted tern, nationally critical black-billed gull and nationally vulnerable wrybill.”

A recent bird count in the area found nearly 10,000 white-fronted terns are currently nesting at the river mouth, alongside more than 10,000 black-billed gulls. The terns are about half way through hatching and the gulls about 90% through hatching.

“Resuming our trapping programme during this sensitive nesting phase is critical to protect these birds,” Janine Holland said. “We encourage visitors to the Ashburton River mouth and surrounding beaches to maintain some distance from the bird colonies to allow the young chicks time to mature and leave their nests safely.”

Source: Environment Canterbury

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