Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre is a wildlife restoration centre at a protected forest area on State Highway 2 in New Zealand’s Tararua district.
Mount Bruce Wildlife Center
The forest was acquired by the government in the 1870s as part of the “Seventy Mile Bush”, which covered the area from Masterton to Central Hawkes Bay before European settlement. Most of the bush was destroyed and converted to farmland, but the 942 hectare Mount Bruce block was protected as a Forest Reserve. Some 55 ha of this were further protected as a Native Bird Reserve, administered by the Wildlife Service.
Local man Elwyn Welch became an expert in captive raising of birds, including endangered birds, leading to successes with Takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) in the 1950s.
In 1962, the centre was established to breed and release endangered native birds on these 55 hectares. Takahe (a very rare bird, thought extinct, but rediscovered in Fiordland) were the first species introduced. In the same decade, a large number of brown teal, buff weka and kākāriki were released.
In 2001 the entire forest became part of the wildlife reserve, extending the area from 55 to 942 hectares, increasing capacity to breed birds and diversified species. About 100 km of tracks were cut and thousands of traps and bait stations were scattered, setting up an area for wildlife with low predator pressure.