The annual Great Kereru Count has begun. Be a citizen scientist and record your sightings of Kereru so that numbers and distribution can be estimated. Kereru are critical for large seed dispersal of native trees and their numbers have declined, so this study is important in terms of forest regeneration forecasting. The recording period runs from 18-27th September. #GKC2020
The Waikato region has many native species, many of which are in the Threatened category. Most people tend to only think of birds when they think of our native species but here’s the list – 196 vascular plants, 50 birds, 20 frogs and reptiles, 23 invertebrates, 10 freshwater fish, 4 marine mammals and 2 land mammals (bats). 16 of the above are only found in the Waikato! There are a further 109 species that are present but considered uncommon.
Sadly, 60 species have been recently lost from Waikato. And one of the best ways to help protect our natives is predator control. Both plants and animals benefit hugely when possums, rats and mustelids are reduced to low numbers.
See the Waikato Regional Council technical report for more information about native species in the Waikato.
Spring is in the air which means it’s a busy time for the birds. It’s breeding time so birds will be finding mates, building nests and raising chicks. This is a time where predator control can really help them out. Eggs, nestlings (chicks still in nests), fledgings (young birds that have left the nest but are naive and still learning,) and even incubating adult birds are at risk from predators. Ship rats, possums and stoats raid nests for eggs and chicks. Get yourself a trap for your backyard and give the birds a fighting chance. Call into Go Eco between 10am – 4pm weekdays or shop online to grab a trap.
1. Why do we have to kill rats/possums etc? These predators were introduced to NZ and have decimated our native species which were unable to cope with these ground predators and in such huge numbers. Some of our native species are extinct and many are endangered because of predators. We need to remove them to protect our native species. PFH are part of the National movement of Predator Free New Zealand.
2. Do you kill cats? No. Our target species are rats, possums and stoats but weasels, ferrets and hedgehogs may also be trapped.
3. Are the traps cruel? All the traps we use are approved as humane kill traps by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC).
4. Do you use poison? No. We only use traps which are baited with non-toxic lure eg. peanut butter
5. Will my pet get caught? All rat and stoat traps are housed in wooden tunnel boxes to prevent pets and children from getting to the trap. Possum traps are mounted onto trees and baited with apple & cinnamon for example to greatly reduce the risk to cats.
Feel free to contact me if you have any further concerns. Email Karen firstname.lastname@example.org
Tunnel box making workshops will become a regular feature at Go Eco in Frankton to get the community involved in predator control. These short workshops will happen on the first Wednesday of each month. All the materials to make the tunnel box plus the rat trap will be supplied. You will learn the basics about trapping rats in your own backyard and contribute to protecting our native species from introduced predators. Koha for workshop is appreciated.
Rats like to eat eggs and they are a long-lasting bait in winter. The moonlight reflects off white eggs and are good visual lures, particularly for stoats. Try placing an egg behind your rat trap (as shown in photos). Use a milk bottle top to hold the egg in place, and it’s easier if you have a hinged back door tunnel box (see first photo). You can still use your favourite bait in the trap itself and two bait types are better than one! Give it a go and see if it works out for you.
It’s an ongoing debate, with everyone having their favourite! Peanut butter seems to be the go-to bait as it’s tasty, relatively cheap and most people have it in their pantry. It’s always a good idea to change your bait type regularly in case your resident rat likes something else. Bait lasts longer in cooler weather so it’s a good time to try meat and other more perishable baits at the moment. Also try cheese, Nutella, commercial lures, bacon, cat food etc. As long as your bait is fresh and there is plenty of it (insects and mice like bait too!), then hopefully you’ll be catching something.
Kaka are a big iconic parrot, seen most often in the Waikato in large blocks of native forest where control of stoats and possums protects nesting birds from predation. Places like Maungatautari and Pureora are great places to see kaka throughout the year, but in winter some kaka regularly visit gardens, golf courses, and small patches of forest throughout the Waikato. Kaka are known to move up to hundreds of km, so there are big questions around where they come from, and how they use the landscape throughout the year, and understanding this is important for kaka conservation. Researchers at Manaaki Whenua — Landcare Research are planning to try to start unraveling the mysteries of where these winter visitors come from, and citizen scientists can help.
If you see kaka you can record your observation on the Waikato Kaka Project on iNaturalist at https://inaturalist.nz/projects/waikato-kaka. If you are able to get a photo of the bird(s) to include in your observation, even better.
There are iNaturalist apps available to make it easy to record your kaka sightings (and all other living things). It’s also a great way to see where other people have seen kaka, so you can hopefully catch a glimpse too. Around Hamilton, I’ve seen them at Taitua Arboretum, Tills Lookout, the zoo, and the University campus.
Now that it’s Level 3 in Lockdown, you can order rat traps online from the Go Eco shop and get it delivered straight to your door. Autumn is a peak time for rats that are high in numbers after Summer, and they are looking for food and warm cozy homes (like yours!).
These T-Rex rat traps are easy to set and are humane kill traps. Once baited (with peanut butter or other tasty treat), place them in the tunnel box. The tunnel box only allows rodents in and keeps pets and small children from harm.
Shop rat traps here https://shop.goeco.org.nz/shop/product/402528/T-Rex-rat-trap-and-wooden-tunnel/
This is a hotly debated (no pun intended) subject. Read what experienced trapper John Bissell has to say on the matter.