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The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says Helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and microlight pilots flying over Mangawhai, North of Auckland, are jeopardizing a tiny population of the country’s rarest bird named the New Zealand fairy tern.
From October 3rd — 31st aircraft were identified as breaching the newly established restricted airspace. The restricted airspace is over a wildlife refuge at Mangawhai sput, directly north of Tara Iti golf course.
The current population of the fairy terns living on the spit is about a quarter of the country’s total population of about 40. The birds regard passing, and low-flying aircraft as predators and they will potentially abandon their nest.
It’s mainly the noise and proximity of why the birds feel so disrupted, to then abandon their nests.
“It’s very important that the restricted airspace is observed, to help prevent the species, possibly New Zealand’s most endangered indigenous breeding bird – becoming extinct,” says Ayla Wiles, Biodiversity Ranger at the Department of Conservation in Whangarei.
“Pilots who ignore the restriction are not only in breach of Civil Aviation Rules, but potentially also breaching the Wildlife Act 1953,” she says.
Department of Conservation is now recording registration marks of offending aircraft and taking photos as evidence of the breaches.
Image: Malcolm Pullman
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