Port Taranaki is responding to concerns about the safety of the little blue penguin population in the harbour by increasing its vermin control on Ocean View Parade and Breakwater Bay.
Port Taranaki environmental manager Bridget Harrison said there had been reports of increased numbers of feral cats in the area so the port would assist by placing live traps to capture and remove cats.
“Because we are a port of first entry and a quarantine facility, we are required by the Ministry of Primary Industries to ensure there are no animals in our operational area to avoid the spread of disease,” Mrs Harrison said.
“Generally we target only the operational area, but when we hear of a need around the greater Port Taranaki site we are happy to help.
“We work with a number of conservation and environmental groups to protect rare and threatened species in the harbour area. We take our responsibility to control vermin seriously to keep our penguin population safe. The penguins are nesting at the moment so it is a crucial period.”
The port’s regular vermin control programme takes place monthly, or more often if there is a need.
“We set mosquito and rat traps and have a contractor who sets traps for cats,” Mrs Harrison said. “Four cats were caught when the traps were last set.
“The cats are taken to the SPCA or a veterinarian to be scanned. Microchipped cats are returned to their owners and feral cats are dealt with humanely.”
Mrs Harrison said the increased vermin control programme would be a one-off operation, but could be repeated if the community feels that feral cats continue to be a threat to our precious penguin population.