News from Justin Lester
Wellington mayoral candidate Justin Lester is pledging to work towards making Wellington a pest free city that could be home to the Brown Kiwi within 7 years.
If elected Lester will lead a coalition of groups including the SPCA, the Halo Project and other community conservation groups to enact a plan to dramatically reduces the city’s predator populations, including rats, stoats, possums, weasels and ferrets.
“With the right leadership, vision and resources Wellington can be the pest free capital of New Zealand,” said Justin Lester.
“It’s an ambitious vision, but we’ve already seen a phenomenal increase in native bird life over the last 25 years due to a concerted effort to reduce pests, so we know it’s achievable.
“It’s estimated there were only six breeding pair of Tui left in Wellington in 1990. We now have thousands, and hundreds of Kaka as well.
“The bird life has been greatly assisted by Zealandia, but an extensive pest eradication scheme implemented by the city and regional council also greatly contributed. It’s time to step up to the next level.
“Wellingtonians love our natural environment and are enjoying seeing native birds return to our suburbs. As Mayor I will ensure the Council steps up its efforts, in partnership with others, so we can have even more native birds in our gardens.
“Under the right conditions it’s realistic to suggest Kiwi could be returned to specific reserves around Wellington where controls against predation are in place.
“Within seven years I’d like to see Kiwi returned to Wellington outside of the Zealandia fence.
“Kiwi were once common in Wellington and in time it is realistic to think we can repopulate Wellington with Kiwi again. Let’s bring back these iconic birds back home to Wellington,” said Justin Lester.
“For many years Wellingtonians have toiled on their properties and in our reserves to welcome back native wildlife into our City,” said Geoff Simmons from the Halo Project
“The idea of having kiwi in our reserves is a great call to arms for people to rally behind and to finish the job of eliminating predators such as rats, weasels and stoats and making sure our pets are well managed. This is visionary stuff that would truly make Wellington the Natural Capital,” said Geoff Simmons.
“Wellington SPCA is excited to support his project. Promoting responsible pet ownership not only improves animal welfare in our community, it helps with conservation efforts like this – everyone wins” said Wellington SPCA Chief Executive Steve Glassey.
“Areas like Polhill Gully and Makara Peak, where sophisticated and well-monitored trapping programmes have been put in place, would be ideal spearheads, spreading south through Carey’s Gully and Te Kopahau to the coast,” said Paul Ward from the Polhill Restoration Group.
“Stoat control has seen Kiwi successfully reintroduced by the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust into the Orongorongo Valley, which is now home to a population of over 100 Kiwi.
“Thanks to the Zealandia and community and council pest control, we’ve had Tieke nesting in Polhill for the past two years. A generation ago these birds were exiled to a couple of predator free islands off Northland. Now they’re back in the wild in Wellington’s backyard, for the first time in a century, five minutes from Willis Street,” said Paul Ward.
Jo wants Wellington to be free of pests