We would like to share some good news from our friends at the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association – A great example of passionate outdoors people caring for the place where they live and play.
Recreational hunters have joined forces with the Department of Conservation to save one of the last populations of a rare and endangered orchid threatened by rodents on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Since the 1990s the endemic dwarf green-hood orchid (Pterostylis puberula) has only been seen in a few widely spread locations from the Three Kings Islands to northwest Nelson. Its status is “nationally endangered”, so the exact location of the Coromandel Peninsula population is being kept secret to deter possible orchid enthusiasts or plant collectors.
But the Thames Valley branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) is in on the secret and Leon Pickering, Biodiversity Ranger with DOC, says about 30 members are playing a vital role in maintaining the trap line and controlling weeds.
According to a report in the latest issue of the NZDA magazine Hunting & Wildlife, there are 58 traps that have to be checked every fortnight along a 3 km trapline during the crucial flowering and seeding season from mid-August to mid-April. Weed control by hand pulling also reduces competition in the disturbed ground habitats that the orchid favours.
Peter Flynn of Thames Valley NZDA, who is co-ordinator for the project, says the first year of trapping produced 154 rats, six stoats and 20 mice; and this year a total of 68 rats, one stoat and 40 mice were removed, indicating that the programme is certainly reducing the rodent numbers. He said there could be no doubt that trapping had a beneficial effect because in 2005 the orchid population peaked in response to intensive predator control. The current 3-year project aims to build further on that success.
“The whole programme is a win/win situation for us and DOC,” Peter said. “In return for our help a DOC officer from Thames helps with our HUNTS course by doing a presentation on hunting permits, back country hut passes, hut books and hunting access. The trapping work helps our volunteers to keep their hunting fitness up – and everyone also looks forward to trying out the local cafés both pre- and post-monitoring.”
This arrangement developed as DOC and the Thames branch have built a closer relationship over recent years. “We already have two memoranda of understanding with DOC regarding two huts in the Kaimais. These huts were going to be removed, so we put up our hand and we now do maintenance on them with the assistance of DOC,” Peter said.
“It’s all about getting out there and protecting what we have and enjoying our beautiful country.”