Monday, 2 December, 2013 - 10:53
Beech trees are currently flowering heavily across the country and could lead to a plague of predators next year putting some rare bird populations at risk says the Department of Conservation.
Beech generally seeds only every four to five years but climatic conditions over the last two summers-a cool summer followed by a warm one-appears to have triggered the onset of a bumper seed or beech mast year.
DOC Director-General Lou Sanson says the widespread flowering will generate large quantities of seed falling onto forest floors next autumn and this abundant food supply is likely to fuel an explosion in mice, rat and stoat numbers from next winter.
"Our biggest concern is that when seed supplies run out next winter, large numbers of rodents and stoats will turn on vulnerable species like threatened forest birds, endangered bats and New Zealand’s unique giant land snails."