13 November 2020
The Department of Conservation Kiwibank Conservation Dogs programme is holding its annual training week at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. Many of the Kiwi Bank Conservation Dog handlers are in remote areas and do not often have the opportunity for teamwork and collaborative learning. From 15-20 November more than 20 of them and their dogs will work together, share ideas, and increase skills and knowledge.
The areas of expertise these conservation dogs have is in pest detection, so while at Maungatautari they will be investigating the presence of rodents, mustelids, cats, Argentine ants, and plague skinks. Maungatautari does claim to be predator-free, so why might this kind of investigation be taken? Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari Operations Team Leader, James Matthews says, “of course our pest surveillance and prevention is intensive, but we don’t know what we don’t know. While we are confident that our systems in pest management are effective, we are always striving to do better, and to know more”.
The week also provides a great opportunity for James and his new aspiring conservation dog, Rua, to test his progress. Rua is 10 months old, and James has worked hard on his training, he is hoping to become a certified Kiwibank Conservation Dog. That means he will be able to provide rodent detection services to Maungatautari, as well as lending a hand to other conservation projects.
This is a first for Maungatautari, and they are looking forward to the extensive search for predators, that could endanger the abundant native species that live within the 47km predator-free Xcluder fence.
The 20+ dogs attending will be staying with their owners in Karapiro. They will be welcomed with a powhiri at the Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari Visitor Centre from 8.30am on Monday, 16 November. The week will end by midday on Friday, 20 November.