Bite Back

16 December 2019

We have recently added some more content to our Bite Marks section. Bite marks reflect the arrangement, shape and size of an animal's jaws and teeth. They can therefore be used to identify the presence of some pest animals.

The new photographs of Chewcard and WaxTag® sign, kindly shared by Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, supplement the photographs of skulls and teeth that we already had.

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Rook Alert

23 November 2019

Regional councils are urging people around New Zealand to report sightings of rooks.

Report sightings but don’t do anything that might alarm the birds, such as shooting or disturbing nests. Rook groups will scatter if alarmed and that means they will be harder to find and potentially establish more breeding sites over a wider area. Rooks are very intelligent and wary of anything new or unusual. For instance, they have reportedly learnt to tell the difference between a gun and a stick and have been known to use a guard bird to test food before others in a flock will eat it.

Instead, note the location, try to take a photo if you can and report your observation to your local regional council as soon as possible. Prompt reporting will enable the council to follow up before the birds move on (perhaps to a new food source).

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Updated pest culprits poster

20 September 2019

For this year's Conservation Week we've updated our culprits poster to show the 30 pest animal species featured on Pest Detective.

Download the poster from our kids' activities page. It has been sized for A2 printing but can alternatively be printed to fit smaller A3 or A4 paper.

Why are these animals pests?

All the pest animals featured on Pest Detective have been introduced to New Zealand either by accident or intentionally for various reasons.

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Cat dropping or not?

29 August 2019

Rick Haddrell recently sent in this photo, taken on his Waitomo farm. He was unsure as to whether it was a cat or hedgehog dropping.

We think it is a cat dropping due to the size, the smooth, elongated shape with visible segments and the rounded cross section. Hedgehog droppings are smaller, tend to be blacker in colour and drier. Or, could it have been from a mustelid?

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All Hands on Deck

29 July 2019

He waka eke noa - All hands on deck’ is the theme of this year’s Biosecurity Week.

According to the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute (NZBI), we’re all in the waka together when it comes to protecting New Zealand’s native biodiversity and primary industries from invasive species.

NZBI is the professional organisation of people involved in all aspects of biosecurity in New Zealand. Institute President, Darion Embling, says that New Zealand has some very ambitious biosecurity goals, which will need technology, innovation and plenty of people power.

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How to read rabbit sign: hear it from an expert

24 June 2019

There’s nothing like a lifetime’s field observation to learn how to read animal sign. We’ve added audio clips of long-time rabbiter, the late Jack Powell, describing some of the rabbit sign he would look for when out in the field.

Jack knew how to read the landscape for signs of pest animals and he understood their behaviour.

In the following audio clip he describes how he would gauge rabbit populations over large areas of rabbit-prone country in the South Island.


Listen to Jack Powell, courtesy New Zealand Biosecurity Institute. 

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Possums target fivefinger

6 May 2019

Possums are the prime suspects behind the bark damage that has killed numerous fivefinger trees on a Coromandel property.

When Annette Steele and Ben Hunter returned home last spring after some months away they noticed the trees had been extensively ringbarked. Some were already dead. The others, already stressed by the damage, died during the dry summer that followed.

Annette referred to Pest Detective to help identify the bark munchers. The long, straight scrape marks with a darker line down the middle pointed to possums, rabbits or hares. All three species make such marks with their front incisor teeth.

However, rabbits and hares were ruled out because the damage was too high (extending up to more than a metre above ground). The shady forest interior was also not typical rabbit and hare habitat.

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'Infurring' evidence

31 January 2019

This close-up of possum fur is one of several new 'body covering' photos in the 'other clues' group on our Clues page, where clues such as an animal's smell, its sound, bite marks, characteristic eye shine and geographic distribution are also featured.

Body covering includes fur, feathers and, in the case of the plague skink, the scales that cover reptilian skin. These can be helpful identifiers, whether sighting the actual animal or finding traces of fur or feathers left behind.

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