Ferrets kill eight kiwi over eight weeks in Tongariro Forest

Sean Hogan
Source: 1News

Eight kiwi have been killed in an eight week period in Tongariro Forest due to ferrets.

Kiwi (file picture).

The Department of Conservation has launched a trapping response programme to contain the outbreak of the pests who disperse to the forest from farmland at this time of year.

Live cage traps have been set up at kiwi kill sites to target the ferret returning to feed on the carcass, and also traps around surviving kiwi have been laid.

A spokesperson for DOC told 1 NEWS they caught one large male ferret last week and suspect he was responsible for the majority of the native bird deaths.

"Ferrets can get a taste for kiwi, and become like rogue dogs - killing a kiwi each week," the spokesperson told 1NEWS.

DOC says ferrets have become one of the biggest threats to kiwi populations, as they are one of the only predators, along with dogs, that are big enough to kill adult kiwi.

From August 2016 to August 2017 ferrets were thought to have killed seven kiwi in the Tongariro Forest.

The kiwi population of Tongariro Forest is thought to be 180-200 adult kiwis with 45 being radio tagged.

DOC says they have had occasional ferret predation events every few years but are worried "they are now increasing greatly in frequency"