Essential flight for rare shore plovers

A successful essential flight took place over the weekend for five rare tūturuatu/shore plovers supporting a critical conservation programme to establish a new population announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

“Serious animal welfare risks to the birds saw Department of Conservation experts transfer five juvenile tūturuatu/shore plovers from Christchurch to Mana Island in Wellington with the support of Air New Zealand and the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust,” said Eugenie Sage.

“There are just 250 of these birds left in the world and these juveniles are a critical part of attempts to establish a self-sustaining population on the pest-free Mana Island so numbers can grow.

“The juvenile birds had been held in a small captive aviary at the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust in Christchurch. A review found that delaying the transfer further would have serious implications for the welfare of the birds and the health of the whole population.

“A lot of careful planning went into the operation. I want to thank all those involved in ensuring this essential transfer could take place with the highest levels of biosecurity and appropriate personal protective equipment to look after the birds and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While virtually all of DOC’s outdoor field work is on hold during COVID-19 Alert Level 4, the Department does assess on a case-by-case basis whether any essential work is needed to meet significant animal welfare. The work must be able to be done in a way that is safe for staff and meets requirements for minimal contact under Alert Level 4. This work includes essential care for some rare species in captive facilities.

“I want to thank everyone who is staying home to save lives including all the rangers, trampers, nature lovers, and outdoors people. By sticking to the rules and staying home we’ll be able to get back into the backcountry sooner. In the meantime essential work to look after rare species is continuing on a case by case basis,” concludes Eugenie Sage.

More information about the tūturuatu/shore plovers can be found here: https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/shore-plover/