Those of us fortunate enough to have lived in Hamilton for a long time will know that for many years we only occasionally saw tūī and they were visitors outside the nesting season – but now they are back. A recent paper in Notornis (1), the Ornithological Society’s journal, has put some numbers around this and tracked the hugely beneficial effect of predator control in bush near Hamilton.
Starting in 2004 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research scientists captured and banded 51 adult tūī and fitted radio transmitters to 41 in and near Hamilton, Cambridge, and Te Awamutu so they could follow their movements. They found that tūī moved 5–23 km from urban areas to surrounding native forests to nest, but only four (29%) of 14 nests that were not protected by predator control fledged young. The main reason was predation by ship rats, kāhu/swamp harriers and possums.
With this information as a baseline, the Waikato Regional Council’s Hamilton Halo project was implemented, carrying out effective pest mammal control in bush areas within tūī flying distance of Hamilton.
Meanwhile a number of community groups and the City Council have carried out environmental restoration and predator control in the city, which provides increased and safe habitat for the growing tūī population to move into.
The research has confirmed greatly increased year-round tūī abundance and nesting in Hamilton. The results confirm previous findings that tūī move widely in winter; that they readily cross pasture in the absence of continuous forest corridors; and that they will permanently inhabit urban areas.
Provided adequate food is available, effective control of ship rats and possums can rapidly (1–4 years) increase tūī visits and nesting within 20 km of managed sites, enabling re-colonisation of nearby urban habitats by tūī, despite previous evidence that tūī tend to live and nest close to where they were hatched.
1. Increasing urban abundance of tūī (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) by pest mammal control in surrounding forests; Neil Fitzgerald, John Innes, Corinne Watts, Danny Thornburrow, Scott Bartlam, Notornis, 2021, Vol. 68: 93-107.
The good news is that if you have a trap at home, you can still check it, experiment with bait types and catch what you can! Or if you have a trap but it’s sitting unused in the shed, then time to dust it off and get it up and running. If you don’t have a trap, how about building your own tunnel box with that wood lying around in your backyard?
Predator Free NZ has some great resources available online to get to grips with predator control, so check it out.
If you have a backyard trap or are part of a trapping group then make sure you are on the PFH Predator Trapping Live Map. See link above. Add your Household if you have a backyard trap. It’s a great way to record your catches and see how many other amazing community members are involved. Note – website is best viewed on Desktop, Laptop or tablet rather than Mobile phone.
Hello! My name is Karen Barlow and I live in Cambridge with my husband and two children. We moved to the mighty Waikato about 12 years ago and now can’t imagine living anywhere else. I have worked for DoC at Pukaha doing Species Management (captive breeding and release programmes, avian husbandry and education & advocacy) and also in the Education sector (Biology & Science). I’m excited to ‘sink my teeth’ (bad pun) into Predator Control in Hamilton and Cambridge and make a difference to native species re-population and forest regeneration.
This newly created role is funded from the Environmental Initiatives Fund by the Waikato Regional Council. I’ll be working with both Predator Free Hamilton and Predator Free Cambridge to control primarily rats but also possums. It will entail liaising with volunteer groups, government departments and other interested parties to achieve this goal. There is some great work that is currently being done and the aim is to expand those efforts. I’ll be managing the Predator Free Hamilton website and social media sites to update progress and provide support. I will be available at the Go Eco premises in Frankton Hamilton every Wednesday to dispense traps and information or you can contact me via email email@example.com or phone 027 240 6879.
The Glenview Group got off to a flying start at its launch in the Glenview Community Centre on Wednesday 11 September. John Innes (Landcare Research) spoke on predators in the urban context – what they are, what they do – and showed some rather distressing videos of rats and possums predating eggs and young chicks. The Wayne Green from DOC showed us what we can do about it, with trap demonstrations and guidance on where to set and how to maintain traps for the different predators. Then we distributed traps, and there’s the beginnings of a strong network in the block around Te Anau Park. Exciting times!
On 12 February Predator-Free Hamilton (PFH) Trust members Gwyneth Verkerk and Kemble Pudney gave a presentation on Predator-Free NZ, PFH, reasons for predator control and identifying common pests, trapping methods and how to get involved. It was very interesting to hear the range of environmental activities that club members are involved in and it brought home to us the number of different perspectives there are on predator control – but all with the same end in mind.