(by John Rainbow)
Members of the Society are now actively involved in a Predator Control Programme in the Reserve. This follows an offer made earlier this year by one of our members. Kerry Oates, who is on our Committee and runs a business called Enviro Research Ltd. He is contracted by DOC and other agencies to carry out a range of functions for them, out in the bush, in Reserves and National Parks. Much of this work focusses on the preservation of endangered native fauna, such as the Kiwi, and the control of the predators that threaten our endangered species.
Kerry had noticed in his frequent walks around the reserve with his dog Tui, that there was a number of large rats and potentially other predators around the track system, putting at risk the nesting attempts and hatchlings of scaup, pukeko etc. As a consequence he offered to source some kill-traps and manage a Predator Control Programme in the Reserve.
The HSIS Committee was quick to accept the initiative, Kerry put a Management Plan together with a key focus on Health and Safety, this was presented to DOC, who were also quick to endorse the Plan 100%.
Another Member’s daughter, Alice West, who while still at school is going for higher awards in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme, offered to get involved and help as part of her community service requirement. Then of course member volunteers were required to check the traps on a weekly basis, for possibly up to 2 years.
The Programme got under way in late August with the placement of tracking tunnels around the reserve. These record the footprints of pest species passing through a tunnel with an ink card inside it. They give an indication of the abundance of pests, whether rats, stoats, weasels or ferrets. The 30 traps were placed throughout the Reserve for a Training Day for volunteers on September 4th and then were baited immediately after the Living Legends Planting Day on Sept. 11th. The first full trap check was completed on Sept. 24th., with 3 rats being caught.
From a safety perspective, the entrance to the traps is small, targeted at the small predators listed above, cannot be entered by cats or dogs, and most of the traps are well hidden from public view. Kerry will record and graph all results for DOC and for the Society throughout the 1-2 year programme, and further monitor the potential positive impact on nesting success of native wetland bird species within the Reserve. This is a fantastic initiative for the Society to be involved in.
September 26 2011