The Summer Campaign - It's war (on pests) in the Gulf

  Vigilant boaties are big players in our front-line defence against summer stowaways with the potential to devastate wildlife on the Hauraki Gulf islands.

Last summerís surprise find of Norway rats on Motuora and Motuihe islands underlines the importance of making sure rats, mice, Argentine ants and other nasties donít jump ship on their hidden journeys.

Everyone who treasures our Gulf islands will be asked to step up their prevention efforts through a summer campaign by Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and the Department of Conservation (D.o.C).

The campaign will help maintain the pest-free status of Rakino, the Noises, Motuihe, Motuora, Tiritiri Matangi and Kaikoura. It will also assist efforts to prevent the introduction of pests such as Argentine ants, stoats and Norway rats to Great Barrier.

Checking boats and gear for stowaways is one of the main ways people can help, with boaties being urged to ďcheck, bait and trapĒ their vessels. The campaign will also teach people how to keep their boats pest-free.

Image courtesy of Nga Manu ImagesWithout this vigilance, itís all too easy for rodents and other invaders to arrive unnoticed. Rats and mice can slip onboard boats moored at a marina or on the hard stand, or kept in a backyard on a trailer. Rodents can climb down mooring ropes and rats in particular can jump off a boat close to a jetty or even swim to an island.

Rats, mice and Argentine ants can also hide in holiday equipment such as camping gear and ants sometimes hitch rides in pot plants, mulch, potting mix, building materials or garden products.

The summer campaign will spread the word through public education measures. Signs will be going up at key mainland locations including boat ramps, marinas and ferry terminals, as well as entry points on the islands, to remind people to check their boats.

More formal aspects of the campaign will include inspections of commercial ships (freighters and ferries), and audits of their pest management systems. With the Kaikoura Is. pest eradication recently completed, and similar operations planned for Rangitoto-Motutapu and Glenfern Sanctuary on Great Barrier next year, the campaign is a vital part of making these initiatives a lasting success.