• Nick Smith

The Minister of Conservation Nick Smith today announced the discovery of a previously unknown bird, on a island south of the Campbell Islands.

"This is an exciting discovery for New Zealand and internationally and I want to congratulate the DOC workers who found these birds. Snipe have never been found on this small island, Jacquemart, or on the main Campbell Island, although it is considered likely that they were on Campbell Island before the introduction of rats in 1810."

Several subspecies of New Zealand snipe are found on other Subantarctic islands, and these birds have diversified on these islands (Snares, Auckland, Antipodes).

"It is considered unlikely that the birds found on Jacquemart are any of these species, as the island is very remote, and this type of snipe does not fly very well or far. We therefore believe that this is a new sub-species of bird and, as such, is of international significance and interest."

The team of DOC workers and three trained bird-tracking dogs found around eight birds yesterday, while on the small steep and rocky rat-free island. Jacquemart island is 19 hectares in size with a little scrub and tussock. At least one snipe was caught, photographed and released. The discoverers are unable to leave Campbell Island at the moment, due to bad weather, but will return to Invercargill as soon as possible.