Cats vs bats: the secret war sending native pekapeka to extinction

By Stefan Dimitrof

New research by Department of Conservation staff has confirmed what has long been suspected, that both feral and domestic cats are repeatedly hunting and eating native bats, called Pekapeka.

Department of Conservation science advisor and Pekapeka specialist Dr Kerry Borkin said pet cats havedefinitely been hunting native Pekapeka.

Borkin said that they had suspected that cats had been attacking the native bat species for a long time.

“We didn’t really realise what an impact a cat could have on a bat colony.”

Borkin said pekapeka were a species most people would expect to find in caves but in fact they lived in areas including farms, forests, towns and cities.

'Approaching extinction numbers'

“We found that one cat was killing and injuring seven long-tailed bats over the course of two years.”

Borkin said that “if we lose our pekapeka, they will not be coming back” as the species numbers have started to approach extinction.

Borkin said that it isn’t widely known that Aotearoa has a tiny native bat so DoC is trying to increase awareness.

The department also runs a lot of predator control against all of the pests that harm bats, including rats, cats, stoats and possums.

Borkin encourages cat owners to take the quiz called the Conservation Friendly Cat Quiz where you will find tips on how to improve wildlife.

If you want to find out more about the Pekapeka then head to the Department of Conservation website here.