March in the Eco-System

The first day of March is also considered the first day of autumn in Aotearoa New Zealand. But it might as well be considered the first day of the rat season. Major conservation projects in places such as Pureora Forest and Fiordland are informed by the Autumn seasons as that is when most rats are active after a summer feeding on surplus seed. Rats are then looking for something else to eat. One of the major problems for our native taonga species such as pekapeka-tou-roa which are found right here in Kirikiriroa is that when there is a lot of seeds for rats to eat there over summer is a increase of Rattus rattus, or ship rats which compete for the habitat of bats as well as eating native birds and birds eggs. 

Those rats will also venture into your barns, garages, and houses or woodpiles as place to keep warm throughout the winter. As a result, The landscape is at risk of being overrun by rats in the autumn season. The Autumn season in the city is just as important as the species which live within the city limits are at risk of being predated or out competed by rats as well.

Every resident can help with the predator control project by joining up to the Predator Free Hamilton Facebook Page, buying a trap from Go Eco in Frankton for their home, or joining one of the many community groups in and around the city. One rat trap in every five houses will help us reach the goal of a predator proof city and support the larger projects which are going on up and down the Waikato River and surrounding basin in Ngaruawahia, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Tamahere, and Pirongia. 

If you have a trap already or are wondering what is the best way to trap them. Go Eco has Victor Modified Traps and T-Rex Traps which are perfectly suited for the job. Rats love peanut butter, Nutella, or egg based mayonnaise, so everyone will likely have something they can use as bait around the house. Mixing up the baits you use is always a good idea so use peanut butter for a few weeks, and then switch to a Nutella-like spread for a while and then back again. You can even leave a dead rat in the trap as rats love the smell of rats, and it will stop it smelling like humans. 

March is also a busy month for bat enthusiasts as the Kirirkiriroa City-Wide Bat survey commences. There are a total of 80 Acoustic Bat Monitors being deployed across the city, with many being on private land and therefore lots of residents have agreed to be involved. The most recently crowned ‘bird’ of the year has become more popular with people in recent months, but may be declining within the city limits. 

The survey is conducted by Project Echo and Go Eco, with the support of WRC, HCC and DOC, so that there is an accurate picture of how bats use the city and where they are most densely populated. The previous survey found the most bat activity in the southern portion of the city, in and around the Mangakotukutuku and Mangaonua gullies as well as the Peacockes area south of the currently developed parts of the city. 
With that in mind and the fact that the Peacocke area is currently being developed, predator control is all the more important, because as the bat habitat in the city is declining the pressure put on pekapeka, or long-tailed bats, by predators increases. The aim of the current project survey is to show the broad nature of bat use of the city landscape to better understand how we can protect them. But one of the already obvious ways we can help is by increasing the number of residents trapping their own backyard and by trapping in the gully systems. One way you can help is to buy a trap from Go Eco in Frankton and place it in your backyard or nearby park.