FLORA AND FAUNA, PRESERVATION OF
The Wildlife Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs was established in 1945 to deal with all problems concerned with wildlife. Two of its functions are the preservation of native birds, and the conservation and management of stocks of game birds. The Wildlife Act of 1953 marked a great forward step in administration. Close liaison was established between the Wildlife Branch and the Freshwater Fisheries Section of the Marine Department, as it was realised that the control of wildlife was a cooperative venture. At the same time the Department of Agriculture was given authority over the importation of all mammals, birds, and plants, in efforts to regulate the entry of pests. In 1956 the Forest Service was given control over deer, opossums, and other browsing animals. The Rabbit Destruction Council works through various rabbit boards, and the Animal Ecology Division carries out research. The Forest and Bird Society are active in all problems concerning preservation of flora and fauna.
The Wildlife Branch has carried on a policy of conservation, has exterminated goats, pigs, and sheep from various islands, and has planted native trees to speed up regeneration (as on Stephens Island, the haunt of the tuatara). With the cooperation of the Forest Service a portion of the Mount Bruce reserve, near Masterton, is being developed as a station for research on native birds. Here were reared the chicks of the Notornis brought from Takahe Valley, Te Anau, a species long thought to be extinct. It is the function of the Wildlife Branch to consider conflicting interests of sportsman, farmer, and naturalist, to stimulate interest in the conservation of natural resources, and to endeavour to obtain cooperation on all problems connected with the preservation of our indigenous flora and fauna.
by Olive Rita Croker, M.A., Botanist, Wellington.