Staff at Wellington's Zealandia eco-sanctuary are on the hunt for a rogue predator. The suspect intruder, thought to be a weasel, had its prints picked-up earlier this week and 110 traps have been set to try to catch the pest.
Zealandia Conservation Manager Dr Danielle Shanahan says, "A very small weasel could very easily have been carried by a harrier or another bird of prey over the sanctuary and dropped in for example, it could have got in through a gate if exact protocols weren't followed."
The culprit's prints were discovered Monday and just yesterday came reports of a weasel sighting by a visitor. Zealandia's fence is undergoing a second check to ensure no breaches.
Shanahan says "Unfortunately with something like a weasel, a very small weasel could get through a hole in a fence roughly the size of my thumb so it's not a very big hole that we're looking for here."
Traps baited with an egg or rabbit meat have been set to stop the critter in its tracks. Once it enters, 'pop' goes the weasel.
Shanahan says "The weasels are related to the stoats and the ferrets and in New Zealand they have a massive impact on our wildlife.
“They're incredible hunters, well-adapted to finding birds' nests and they will often take eggs, chicks and sometimes adult birds off the nest as well.”
The last time this sort of unwanted intruder was on site was a decade ago. The traps go live next week.