Thermal camera finds a stoat at Shakespear Regional Park

Shakespear Regional Park is an Open Sanctuary at the tip of the Whangaparāoa Peninsula. Managed by the Auckland Council, it is part of a group of predator free sanctuaries around New Zealand and is one of the most visited and accessible. The park is protected by a 1.7km pest-proof fence that runs across the narrow part of the peninsula. This is supported by a pest monitoring and eradication program to ensure it remains a haven for native species.

Shakespear Regional Park

Pests do occasionally get past the fence. The rangers suspect they swim around the ends, or maybe walk around at very low tides. It was after one of these incursions when the rangers at park contacted The Cacophony Project. They had detected a stoat inside the park, but it disappeared from their normal trail cameras. They had hoped it was a solitary male until a member of the public spotted two stoats running in the park just before Christmas. This was their first confirmation that a female stoat had denned inside the Sanctuary. Stoat dogs searched the whole park with no fresh scent detected, and they decided they needed a better tool, knowing they would be playing a long game, trying to eradicate her and her offspring.

Auckland Council rented one of our thermal cameras to test it’s ability to find the stoats. The cameras normally only operate at night time because most of the pests in NZ are nocturnal. However stoats can be active throughout the day, so with a small configuration change we set the camera up to record 24/7. While waiting for the camera to be delivered they caught a couple of stoats using DOC200’s (1 male and 1 female). Within a couple of days of setting it up the thermal camera detected another stoat just after 9pm.

The rangers, Bruce and Emma found the camera particularly easy to use compared to the trail cameras which require a lot of memory card management and time reviewing many false positives. As a result, Auckland Council have decided to buy the camera so they have it in their arsenal of tools to protect their precious park. Renting the camera first was a great way of trying it out before they committed to buying the unit. They know they still have a stoat presence in the park and are trying to hunt them down. They are planning on trying our new trap to catch the stoat. Watch this space.

Here’s another video showing some of the taonga they are protecting.

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