2019 WINNER OF THE PREDATOR FREE NZ HOLIDAY PARK AWARD!!
Russell –Orongo Bay Holiday Park has been involved in predator management for over five years. We employ an expert Predator controller and also operate our own indoor and outdoor predator controlling system.
OUR TRAPS Extreme care is taken so that our baits and traps target only predator species and with an abundance of native species around this can prove as quite a challenge. Bait stations have to be sized carefully to ensure the curious wekas cannot feed on the bait and are small enough to target only rats and mice, kill traps are set off ground to target only possums, mustelids and feral cats. Our PeeGee trap that targets Indian mynas is checked daily and any native birds are removed immediately. We carefully select rodent poisons that contain a non-target species deterrent and that have a low risk of secondary poisoning (poisons that break down in the target species digestion so that, say, a poisoned mouse does not affect a scavenging weka) and worse–case scenario poisons that are treatable by antidote. Indoor traps are checked daily, emptied and thrown to scavengers accordingly. Trap baits, setup and location are changed regularly to maximise success rate.
ANIMAL WELFARE Animal welfare, predator or not, is paramount to us so we understand the importance of humane predator control. The maximum kill time of the SA1 traps is 4 seconds and the DOC 200 kills almost instantly. Captured myna birds are often kept as decoys, these are checked and provided with shelter and fresh food and water daily. Their roost is also changed periodically for cleanliness.
PLANT PESTS As well as animal predators we also focus heavily on plant pests: i.e. weeds. We use a 15 litre spray pack to administer low toxicity herbicides to target outbreak areas only, this method has proven effective by severely reducing growths of paspalum and gorse throughout the park and surrounding areas. Smaller weeds are removed manually to avoid chemical use where possible and larger established weeds, such as wattle and woolly nightshade, are cut down and a small amount of herbicide is used to prevent re-growth only and pinpoint target species. We often work beyond our boundaries, where possible, as this not only helps keep the surrounding areas pest free but also limits the reintroduction of seedlings. Our efforts have greatly reduced the spread of invasive plants into our surrounding bush such as: kahili ginger, gorse, blackberry, wattle and woolly nightshade.
We consider our efforts successful given that we now host an abundance of native plant and animal species. Mānuka and Kānuka now stand where Wattles and Pines did, the thwarted spread of wild ginger has helped native ferns re-establish and we even have a few young kauri trees aspiring to be giants.
WEKA Thanks to efforts from Russell Landcare Trust we have been able to help support the re-introduction of the North Island Weka. It’s astonishing to hear that not too long ago the weka was totally wiped out on the Russell peninsula and was re-introduced in 2002. Now Russell is well and truly the country’s main stronghold of North Island weka and we are proud to say that it was partly our, and other like minded people’s, efforts that has helped achieve this. Each night the birds song grows stronger and the feedback we are getting from our guests is getting better and better:
” A beautiful holiday park, with spacious grounds, trees, gardens and lots of native birdlife.”
“The scenery here is absolutely stunning, never mind star gazing at night and listening to the kiwi’s call.”
“A very natural beautiful environment… for people who want to experience NZ at its best – the sounds are amazing!”
“The area is incredibly tranquil, and I loved being able to hear the native birds in the nearby bush.”
with reviews like this it is plain to see that the wildlife is beyond a doubt the star of the show, comments like these are helping to build and strengthen Russell’s reputation as a holiday destination which in turn brings more capital which can help fund further conservation projects much like our friends at Russell Landcare Trust.
ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCATES Our actions don’t just end with the conservation work we do on our park. We advocate our ideologies to our peers, colleagues and guests. Despite being a dog friendly park we educate our guests about the concerns of having free roaming mammals around kiwi habitats and insist that all dogs are kept on a lead inside and outside the park boundary. We are part of a larger community and understand the bonds that grow between people and their pets but are also equally firm believers of responsible and considerate behaviours that maintain conservation work. We support, wherever possible, other likeminded groups such as Far North Birders, Russell Nature Walks and The Ornithological Society of New Zealand (whom have helped identify around 55 different species of bird on our park).
Taking inspiration from projects such as Project Island Song leads us to believe that such success can be replicated. Since the project started in 2003, focused on a group of eastern islands known as Ipipiri, Islands such as Urupukapuka and Moturua have become Predator free since 2009. These Islands becoming Predator free has meant that the fragile, natural eco-system can now be re-introduced. Over 30,000 tree’s have been planted on the islands and so far 5 rare and endangered birds species have been re-introduced (including the pāteke, tieke and kākāriki) with many more translocations planned for the near future. With a thriving weka community, a stable kiwi population and even our own pāteke on site we are aspiring towards our own dreams of restoring this beautiful land to its former illustrious glory.
INDIAN MYNAS Did you know? The common myna (Acridotheres tristis) was introduced to New Zealand and is one of only three birds in the Top 100 species that pose an impact to biodiversity, agriculture and human interests. This can only mean bad news for native species!
WHY? Mynas can reproduce quickly and in huge numbers, this means that the demand for food is high and due to their territorial nature, common mynas evict eggs and chicks of other birds nesting in their vicinity. They also show considerable aggression towards adults, preventing them from feeding chicks and leading to a reduction in their breeding success.
BUT it’s not all bad news! We trap the mynas on the park using a PeeGee Trap which works with a one-way funnelling system which causes no harm to the birds.
MUSTELIDS Stoats and weasels were brought from Britain in the 1870s to control rabbits. They spread to the bush, where they took eggs from nests and killed young native birds. Along with humans, rats, mice, cats and wasps, stoats have dramatically reduced native animal life in the bush – eliminating 43% of native bird species! Stoats are ‘public enemy number one’ for New Zealand birds. It is estimated that for North Island brown kiwi, and some other species of kiwi, 95% of chicks born in the wild each year do not survive and 50% of these deaths can be attributed to predation by stoats and feral cats. Kiwi populations are declining by 3% annually and without stoat control, kiwi could be lost from the wild within two generations!
RATS AND MICE Rats and mice arrived in New Zealand as stowaways on ships. Together with stoats and cats, rats have contributed to the extinction of many native species. They take birds’ eggs and nestlings and in winter they eat insects that would otherwise be food for native animals.
At Russell- Orongo Bay Holiday Park we have our own trapping system as well as an experienced professional we employ to keep these critters in check!