You may be aware that, in July last year, Department of Conservation and MAF Biosecurity New Zealand declared rainbow skink (Lampropholis delicata) an Unwanted Organism (UO) under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The declaration was based largely on the risk posed to native lizards from competition for resources with this invasive Australian skink.
Rainbow skinks are not present in the South Island, or on many of New Zealand’s offshore islands. This UO declaration is aimed at slowing or preventing the spread of rainbow skinks through the country, particularly into the South Island and important offshore islands. It is now illegal to knowingly communicate (move around), release, breed or sell rainbow skinks.
Rainbow skinks are ‘hitchhikers’: they have been known to reach the South Island and offshore islands through accidental movement as stowaways in mail bags, building supplies, freight containers, potted plants, and personal effects. Human-mediated pathways are considered to present the greatest likelihood of enabling establishment of rainbow skinks in the South Island.
A fact sheet has been published to raise awareness of the hitchhiking risk posed by rainbow skinks. We would be greatly appreciative if you would print and read the fact sheet, and keep it in a prominent place for all your staff to see.
If you are moving anything from areas that are known to have rainbow skinks, please thoroughly check all items for the skinks or their eggs. Other ways to reduce the risk of rainbow skinks ‘hitchhiking’ include storing cargo in uncluttered areas free of vegetation or other cover that rainbow skinks are known to inhabit.
If you see a lizard that you suspect is a rainbow skink in the South Island, immediately report it to either MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (0800 80 99 66) or the Department of Conservation (0800 DOC HOT, 0800 362 468).
For more information or for more copies of the fact sheet, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Phil Bell, Senior Technical Support Officer – Biosecurity
Department of Conservation—Te Papa Atawhai