The Chatham Islands recently had visitors of the canine variety as part of our ongoing work to keep the Islands free from Argentine and Darwin's ants and plague skink (also known as rainbow skink).

Dogs Jamie and Stella, alongside (human) handlers Brian and Laura, are part of the Department of Conservation’s Conservation Dogs Programme. It's a nationwide programme that supports dog-handler teams to detect Aotearoa’s protected species or in this case, unwanted pests.

Argentine ants are one of the world’s top ten invasive species. They post a serious threat to biodiversity by forming aggressive super colonies with equally large appetites. They take food away from nectar eating birds such as tūī, invertebrates and lizards.

Plague skinks are able reach high population numbers in a short amount of time and can compete with native lizard species for food, habitat and space.

We’re thrilled to report that no ants or skink were detected and the team will be back next year to check again. A big thank you to the Department of Conservation and Auckland Council, Brian, and Laura for supporting our biosecurity work on the Chatham Islands.