Piri, a four-year-old border cross fox terrier, is trained by DOC Ranger Carol Nanning to detect mice and rats as part of biosecurity measures protecting Motuihe and other pest free islands in the Hauraki Gulf.
DOC Ranger Carol Nanning holds a mouse she and conservation dog Piri found on a truck heading to Motuihe
Image: John Laurence, Motuihe Trust ©
Motuihe has been free of rats, mice and other animal pests since 2005. The island provides a safe haven for a range of threatened and at risk native wildlife including kiwi pukupuku/little spotted kiwi, tīeke/saddleback, kakariki, korimako/ bellbird, tuatara, and shore skink.
Mice are very destructive to native wildlife and plant life. They eat the chicks of native birds and destroy their eggs by puncturing the shells. They eat native lizards and native insects that provide food for native birds. And they eat native plants stopping them from regenerating and depriving native birds of food.
Piri and Carol found the mouse in the cab of a truck yesterday (Tuesday November 7). It was being shipped to Motuihe on a Sea Link Barge from the company’s ferry terminal at Half Moon Bay in Howick. The truck was carrying gravel for a track upgrade funded by Foundation North.
"Piri started pawing at a coat in the sleeping area behind the seats in the truck cab," says Carol Nanning.
"I picked up the coat and saw mouse poo where the coat had been lying. It was not the driver's regular truck."
As they continued to search for the mouse Piri began pawing at a mat on the floor of the truck cab, on the driver's side.
"I picked up the foot mat and found the mouse. It was dead. I guessed it had been squashed," says Carol Nanning.
Carol and Piri found the mouse during a routine biosecurity check. Every truck and its cargo, barged to Motuihe and the other pest free islands in the Hauraki Gulf, is screened by a conservation dog and handler. This is part of a biosecurity system to keep the islands free of rats, mice and other animal pests.
"People travelling to pest free islands should always check their clothing, and any gear they’re taking, to ensure its free of pest animals, weeds, seeds and soil. The highest risk pests are rats, mice, plague skinks and Argentine ants," says Carol Nanning.
Sea Link has a pest free warrant. It has traps on its ferries, barges and at its terminal at Half Moon Bay.