The 2022 Mustelid Summit

November 21, 2022 3:38 pm

A blog and imagery by Stuart Attwood
Recently Predator Free 2050 Limited’s Research and Development Project Support Manager Olivia Rothwell and Dr Andrew Veale were the keynote speakers at an event hosted by Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel Community Trust.

The Mustelid Summit was organised to bring together community groups and individuals involved in predator control around the Coromandel and further afield, to share knowledge of mustelids and what the latest research is uncovering about stoats, ferrets, and weasels.

Andrew VealeFirst up was Andrew Veale (Dr Stoat), familiar to many in the predator control field as the man who mapped the stoat genome. Dr Veale spoke about his research work at Manaaki Whenua, the effectiveness of trapping regimes and where our knowledge is taking us when it comes the genomics of stoats.

For many in the room it was an interesting education on the complicated nature of genetic work and the possibilities that are unfolding as we learn more about genetics, such as species-specific toxins.

Olivia gave an overview of the landscape-scale projects that Predator Free 2050 Limited is involved in around Aotearoa as well as the research and development of the various products we are funding. The P2P products were the main thrust of Olivia’s talk and she covered not only mustelids, but the range of products intended for our other predators as well. Describing the process of taking ideas for traps, baits (and other technology) through to available products, she also outlined our partnerships with researchers and manufacturers, and how Predator Free 2050 Ltd is exploring mātauranga Māori as a source of innovation.

The summit was a great way for people from projects round the country, each with similar mustelid issues, but with unique ways to solve them to share their knowledge and experience. Frank Lepara, from Te Korowai O Waiheke (a PF2050 Limited partner project), inspired attendees with how close Waiheke is to becoming stoat free. The team is now at a point where they’re using conservation dogs to indicate and target individual stoats and stoat families.

Frank Lepara Bruce Harrison and Emma Whiton from Shakespear Open Sanctuary provided insight into their experimental approach to learning what works when it comes to trapping and luring intelligent and elusive mustelids. And Sarah Smerdon, from Mahakirau Forest Sanctuary, shared her experiences of an inland and unfenced forest situation. Mahakirau Forest Estate is private land surrounded by Department of Conservation land. With some aerial control taking place it is not enough to keep re-invasion at bay so, as in so many unfenced sanctuaries on the mainland, it is a constant task keeping the predators at bay.

It was great to be involved in this event, which acknowledged both the amazing mahi of the people involved in predator control around Aotearoa, as well as the step changed in approach that is needed to rid Aotearoa of predators and allow our species to flourish.

Banner image: Olivia Rothwell presents on tthe landscape-scale projects that Predator Free 2050 Limited is involved in around Aotearoa as well as research and development.

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