Park Status: Open

Animal Pest Management

  • Cats, (Feral and Domestic)
  • Ferrets
  • Hares
  • Hedgehogs
  • Possums
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Stoats
  • Weasels

Cats have a major impact on native and non-native (exotic) species. The habitat where they live determines their diet and they are extremely efficient killers that adapt very quickly to the local environment. Cats feed on rabbits, birds, eggs, rats, hares, bats, lizards, mice, weta and other invertebrate populations. When hunting cats will travel between 15 to 20 kilometres a night 

Ferrets are the largest mustelid in New Zealand and their main food preference is rabbits and hares, however should there be any reduction in the rabbit and hare population they will attack other animals. Ferrets feed on rabbits, hares, rodents, possums, nesting birds, chicks, lizards, eels, frogs, insects, eggs, hedgehogs and carrion. Ferrets establish a regular hunting beat and will travel 10 to 15 kilometres.

Hares are a significant agricultural pest that negatively impact on ecosystems and cause browsing damage to saplings, young trees and shrubs. Hares often cause damage to tree plantings by gnawing at bark, chewing off the stems of young plants, eating buds and small branches there by killing and/or badly damaging the plant.  They can travel up to 4 kilometres to feed on a wide variety trees and shrubs.                                                                                                              

Hedgehogs are responsible for significant levels of predation on skinks and invertebrate populations, unfortunately Hedgehogs are regarded as appealing creatures and relatively harmless. In actual fact Hedgehogs are a very real threat to native invertebrates and feed on skinks, lizards, eggs and chicks of ground nesting birds and weta.  

Possums have made a significant adverse impact on many of New Zealand’s natural ecosystems. Leaves are the possum’s main diet, but they also eat flowers, fruit/berries and nectar, significantly affecting the life cycle of native trees and plants, competing against native birds and invertebrate for food. Possum’s are opportunistic omnivores whom also feed on eggs, nesting chicks, invertebrates and weta. Possums are active at night and travel up to 4 kilometres in search of food.   

Rabbits create extensive damage where they are able to browse on vulnerable native plant communities; they badly damage young trees by chewing on the plants, buds and stems. Rabbit generated damage also includes the actual girdling of larger trees, and rabbit activity occurs more frequently during late autumn and winter.

Rats are found in different habitats around New Zealand and are wide spread in lowland podocarp- broadleaf forests. They are good climbers a factor that allows them access to bird nests and their varied diet means that they compete with native wildlife for food, The rat diet includes birds, seeds, snails, lizards, fruit, weta, eggs, chicks, larvae, invertebrates and flowers. There are three species of rats in New Zealand, the most common is the “Ship Rat”, the other two are; “Norway Rat” and  the Pacific or Polynesian Rat, (“Kiore”).

Stoats are voracious and relentless hunters and their adverse predation on New Zealand’s bird life should not be underestimated, DOC describes stoats as ‘public enemy number one’ for New Zealand’s native birds. Their main diet is rats, mice, birds, chicks, eggs, rabbits, hares, possums, lizards, fresh water crayfish, roadkill, hedgehogs and fish. Birds that nest in trees and/or old trunks are vulnerable to stoats. It is quite common for stoats to travel as far as 8 – 10 kilometres when in search of prey.

Weasels are found in low numbers in most habitat types in New Zealand and have adversely impacted on lizard and invertebrate populations as well as bird life. Weasels have a similar diet to stoats in that their main prey are rats, mice, birds, chicks, eggs, rabbits, hares, possums, hedgehogs and insects (particularly weta). Populations of skinks and lizards are particularly vulnerable to weasels that have targeted these small populations. Weasels are fearless and will tackle prey much larger than themselves.   

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