Like everywhere else in the country we have our share of pests. One to watch out for is the stoat. Some folks have had success trapping them.
When I’ve spotted stoats they’ve looked very handsome. Unfortunately they’re killers. I lost several quail to one and neighbours have lost chickens. Who knows what damage they’ve done to native birds!
Stoats (Mustela erminea) are members of the mustelid family. Weasels and ferrets are also mustelids. All three species were introduced to New Zealand as early as 1879 to control rabbits that were destroying sheep pasture. From very early on, stoats have had a devastating effect on New Zealand’s unique birdlife.
A stoat has reddish-brown fur on its back, a white or cream coloured underbelly, and has a long tail relative to weasels, with a distinctive and obvious bushy black tip. An adult male can measure 390 mm from nose to tip of tail. Stoats can be confused with weasels but adult stoats are longer and heavier than adult weasels and display a straight line along their sides where the brown fur meets the pale belly fur.
Conservation in NZ writes:
Among many more species introduced to New Zealand over the 1800’s were ship rats, cats, dogs, hedgehogs, ferrets, stoats and weasels. These last three were introduced in the late 1800’s in an attempt to control the rabbits, which were by now causing problems for the developing farming community.
For some stunning photos of stoats see The Menace Of Stoats.