SIRCET steps into the future

  Stewart Island Community & Environment Trust announced last week their draft feasibility study on rat, feral cat and possum eradication. Brent Beaven, project coordinator, said this aims to make Stewart Island the ‘Galapagos of the South’.

At 174,600 ha the island is more than six times the size of Great Barrier, receives a similar number of visitors and has about the same Department of Conservation presence. The only alien mammal predators are rats, feral-cats, possums, whitetail deer and a small population of hedgehogs.

A key step in the project has been the formation of a liaison group of community members, deerstalkers, Forest & Bird and iwi. This will be expanded in the future to provide a Governance group with representatives from all key stakeholders.

Mr Beaven says that experience to date suggests that a rodent free status could be maintained: ’dogs could be used to check over vessels and aircraft prior to their departure to Stewart Island. This would be a quick and effective technique for ensuring that the risk is minimized’.

The community will now meet to consider, debate and give feedback. The study is expected to be finalised in June.