17 Nov 2015

Stoats nest found at Dunedin sanctuary

1:13 pm on 17 November 2015

A Dunedin bird sanctuary has caught a family of stoats likely to be responsible for ravaging the centre for months.

A destroyed stoat den at Orokonui sanctuary.

A destroyed stoat den at Orokonui sanctuary. Photo: Supplied

One or more stoats have wiped out the only mainland population of South Island saddlebacks, in the Orokonui eco-sanctuary, since apparently getting inside the security fence during snows in June.

No stoat movements had been detected since September.

Sanctuary conservation manager Elton Smith said a specialist dog searching during Prince Charles' visit two weeks ago found a nest with a mother and babies under a large totara tree.

He said he and another ranger have trapped the mother stoat and two babies and sealed off the nest.

"Her fatal flaw in the entire time she'd been here, she tried to save her young, which you've got to admire, but it was a fatal mistake and as she was leaving carrying one of the kids in her mouth they both got trapped."

Mr Smith said the evening they caught the stoat would be the highest moment in his life.

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