Next-level predator control at Gray's Bush

NEXT LEVEL TRAPPING: Department of Conservation gateway student Kane Smith of Campion College, Forest and Bird Gisborne secretary Barry Foster and chair Grant Vincent assemble one of 30 Goodnature A24 rat and stoat traps installed at Gray's Bush Scenic Reserve this week. Pictures by Liam Clayton
TRACKING THE TRAPS: Department of Conservation ranger Paul Roper with a GPS device used to track the Goodnature A24 trap locations.

PREDATOR control at Gray’s Bush Scenic Reserve has been taken to the next level thanks to 30 new self-resetting traps.

The kahikatea and puriri forest is the only surviving example in the Poverty Bay flats, an area that has been largely cleared and drained for farming.

Tui, bellbird, piwakawaka and kereru, among others, use the area for feeding and occasional nesting. Invertebrates are also highly important to the environment.

The land is managed by the Department of Conservation but Forest and Bird’s Gisborne branch of volunteers has taken responsibility for predator control there over the past seven years.

This month a team from Forest and Bird, Goodnature and DoC installed 30 A24 Goodnature self-resetting traps.

The traps add to 20 DoC 200 traps the trust bought in the beginning of its work there, and 30 Victor traps provided by DoC six years ago.

“Thanks to those original traps the tally has gone up over the years, but anecdotally we are still killing as many pests as we were seven years ago. We don’t think we are getting on top,” Forest and Bird Gisborne secretary Barry Foster said.

“These new traps present a step change. They can kill a lot more pests, and will increase and invigorate bird life in this bush.

“This is the last remaining piece of original bush on the Poverty Bay flats. It is iconic for Gisborne. We have lost so much and this is a real biodiversity hotspot.”

Rats, stoats and hedgehogs

Forest and Bird Gisborne chair Grant Vincent said the traps would take on rats, stoats and hedgehogs, which preyed on native birds and their eggs, and invertebrates and insects.

“These traps are taking it to the next level. They will also mean less voluntary time for us.

“It presently takes a good three hours to get around the traps and we try and get around them once every three weeks, while the A24 lures and gas canisters only need changing every six months.”

Forest and Bird would be doing a bird survey and monitoring the traps closely in the initial stages to gauge their effectiveness.

The humane A24 traps can reset themselves up to 24 times per CO2 canister and lure, hence the name A24.

Once inside the trap the animal knocks a wire, releasing a C02-powered plastic bolt, striking the animal in the head, killing it instantly and expelling it from the trap.

The dead animals are left to decompose or are scavenged by other species.

“Gray’s Bush is a small area but is so important because of the plants, birds, animals and insects that are here, which are all affected by rats and stoats.

“Rats and hedgehogs hoover up invertebrates, which are a major food source for the birds.”

Not for touching

The traps were placed far away from the walking tracks and Mr Vincent said people should not touch them.

“They are kill-traps for rats and stoats with a strong mechanism, so it is best not to touch them.”

DoC ranger Paul Roper said the traps were a crucial tool in getting to the predator-free 2050 goal.

“They demonstrate what can be achieved when people put their minds to finding alternative solutions.”

Goodnature technician Sam Gibson said the traps were designed to be effective and reduce the workload.

“The birds should be flourishing in here. It also frees up time for volunteers to do other projects, rather than spend all their energy checking traps.”

Mr Gibson has been involved in several other projects in Tairawhiti, including an installation of 150 A24 traps at Morere Scenic Reserve, and a trapping workshop in Mahia with Whangawehi Catchment Management Group.

“There are some really cool projects popping up in Tairawhiti, with different community and DoC-led groups.

“The most important thing as far as predator-free 2050 goes is getting landowners and the community psyched to do their bit.

“If we don’t get people engaged in looking after the whenua, I don’t see how we are going to achieve eradication of pest species in New Zealand.”

PREDATOR control at Gray’s Bush Scenic Reserve has been taken to the next level thanks to 30 new self-resetting traps.

The kahikatea and puriri forest is the only surviving example in the Poverty Bay flats, an area that has been largely cleared and drained for farming.

Tui, bellbird, piwakawaka and kereru, among others, use the area for feeding and occasional nesting. Invertebrates are also highly important to the environment.

The land is managed by the Department of Conservation but Forest and Bird’s Gisborne branch of volunteers has taken responsibility for predator control there over the past seven years.

This month a team from Forest and Bird, Goodnature and DoC installed 30 A24 Goodnature self-resetting traps.

The traps add to 20 DoC 200 traps the trust bought in the beginning of its work there, and 30 Victor traps provided by DoC six years ago.

“Thanks to those original traps the tally has gone up over the years, but anecdotally we are still killing as many pests as we were seven years ago. We don’t think we are getting on top,” Forest and Bird Gisborne secretary Barry Foster said.

“These new traps present a step change. They can kill a lot more pests, and will increase and invigorate bird life in this bush.

“This is the last remaining piece of original bush on the Poverty Bay flats. It is iconic for Gisborne. We have lost so much and this is a real biodiversity hotspot.”

Rats, stoats and hedgehogs

Forest and Bird Gisborne chair Grant Vincent said the traps would take on rats, stoats and hedgehogs, which preyed on native birds and their eggs, and invertebrates and insects.

“These traps are taking it to the next level. They will also mean less voluntary time for us.

“It presently takes a good three hours to get around the traps and we try and get around them once every three weeks, while the A24 lures and gas canisters only need changing every six months.”

Forest and Bird would be doing a bird survey and monitoring the traps closely in the initial stages to gauge their effectiveness.

The humane A24 traps can reset themselves up to 24 times per CO2 canister and lure, hence the name A24.

Once inside the trap the animal knocks a wire, releasing a C02-powered plastic bolt, striking the animal in the head, killing it instantly and expelling it from the trap.

The dead animals are left to decompose or are scavenged by other species.

“Gray’s Bush is a small area but is so important because of the plants, birds, animals and insects that are here, which are all affected by rats and stoats.

“Rats and hedgehogs hoover up invertebrates, which are a major food source for the birds.”

Not for touching

The traps were placed far away from the walking tracks and Mr Vincent said people should not touch them.

“They are kill-traps for rats and stoats with a strong mechanism, so it is best not to touch them.”

DoC ranger Paul Roper said the traps were a crucial tool in getting to the predator-free 2050 goal.

“They demonstrate what can be achieved when people put their minds to finding alternative solutions.”

Goodnature technician Sam Gibson said the traps were designed to be effective and reduce the workload.

“The birds should be flourishing in here. It also frees up time for volunteers to do other projects, rather than spend all their energy checking traps.”

Mr Gibson has been involved in several other projects in Tairawhiti, including an installation of 150 A24 traps at Morere Scenic Reserve, and a trapping workshop in Mahia with Whangawehi Catchment Management Group.

“There are some really cool projects popping up in Tairawhiti, with different community and DoC-led groups.

“The most important thing as far as predator-free 2050 goes is getting landowners and the community psyched to do their bit.

“If we don’t get people engaged in looking after the whenua, I don’t see how we are going to achieve eradication of pest species in New Zealand.”

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