Stoats, weasels and ferrets (mustelids)
Copyright Dept of Conservation
These three members of the mustelid family are a major threat to our region's biodiversity. They continue to have a devastating effect on New Zealand's native animals and impact our farming industry. Mustelids eat:
Ferrets may carry Bovine Tb, which can infect cattle and deer herds.
Mustelids are relentless hunters, described as having only two reasons for living - to eat and to breed. They can hunt day and night, climb trees, have a territory of over a kilometre, and swim for a few kilometres. The mustelids in New Zealand are:
They may look cute, but they are 'public enemy number one' for New Zealand birds
These pests were introduced into New Zealand in the 19th Century in an attempt to control the rabbit population. The potential impact on the native bird species was known, but agriculture took precedence over the environment at the time.
Mustelid droppings are long thin and strongly scented, often with a twist at each end. They are usually left in open places such as the middle of tracks or clearings.
They may leave dead prey with chew marks on their head or neck if they are disturbed.
If there are high numbers of rabbits, rats, chickens, or waterbirds then there may also be stoats.
The most effective way to control mustelids is regular and ongoing trapping.
Location, location, location: Good places for traps are along pathways, tracks and fence lines, near natural or artificial cover, waterways or food sources. If you are trapping over a large area then set the traps about 100m apart. Put a number on each trap and keep a record of how many have been set, when and where
Bait it: The best bait is something fresh such as; eggs, cat food, fresh fish, chicken, mice, rats, possums and rabbits
Check it & don’t forget it: Check the traps at least once a month and change the bait. Remove and dispose of old bait away from the trap. Check traps more often in late summer and autumn as food sources dwindle and catch rates can go up
If you spot a mustelid in a park or forest then note the area, take a photo if you can, and contact us on 0800 496 734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bionet - information about pests and disease in New Zealand