Predator Free BOP Coordinator Luke Judd. Photo / Andrew Warner
Those struggling with pests on their property will have a new place to turn next month, with a new service to borrow free set-to-open traps.
Predator Free BOP and Predator Free Waihi Beach are opening two new “trap libraries” in Tauranga and Waihi Beach on October 3.
The libraries will have traps for stoats, weasels, hedgehogs, possums and live traps for feral cats, which one expert says may be beyond many people’s budgets.
Traps can be borrowed for three months or until they are no longer needed. Instructions will be given on safe use when the trap is taken out. Predator Free already offers free rat traps through their website.
Predator-free BOP coordinator Luke Judd said the trap library will help manage the wide variety of pests that threaten wildlife beyond just rats.
“There are a lot of properties that are dealing with pests that are not rodents, and they can’t afford to necessarily buy one of these very expensive traps for the possibility of maybe killing this one pest.
“A lot of people will either just ignore it until it goes away, or just kind of live with it.”
They were inspired to start a trap library by Debra Jager, who started one in Whakamarama two years ago.
“People usually just need the trap until the problem goes away, and then they don’t have to use it for quite some time, so something like a library is a perfect facility for them to be able to deal with the problem.”
Judd said pests are a big problem in the region.
“We have such rich soil … there are so many orchards, plantations, and it’s heaven for these pests. All that fruit, all the avocado – it’s a very easy place for them to live.
“Not only do they destroy people’s lives, it’s also a perfect place for them to breed, so then it’s going to be an extremely difficult place for all the birds to live.”
Also threatened are insects and vegetation, which are the birds’ food and habitat.
“It’s a silent killer because a lot of this stuff happens at night… someone who’s in an urban area that doesn’t have a lot of trees or a vegetable garden won’t notice the difference. But… the rats are running everywhere.”
For those who may be struggling with a dead trap, Judd recommended asking a neighbor or a family member for help unloading the traps, and to understand the importance of exterminating pests.
“The kill traps are the most ethical way to kill these animals because they are designed and proven to kill them ethically, in the most painless and quickest way possible.”
“The time to take action is now. We really can’t afford to turn a blind eye any longer.”
Jager said her area is rich in animals and avocado groves, as well as wood piles that bring in predators.
In total they have 400 rat traps, 40 possum traps and 50 stoat traps, of which the latter is the most popular.
She said those with pest problems should “start trapping, and they should do it regularly”.
“They have to check them weekly … and change the bait as well, at least biweekly.”
For those who trap and catch nothing, Jager emphasized changing the bait and trying a new location for the trap.
“They think if they haven’t caught anything, that there’s nothing … and that’s not true. They’ll be there, you might just have to adjust.”
Those catching for the first time will receive help and education from the library, she said.
Department of Conservation, Tauranga District, Predator Free 2050 ranger Nataalia Lunson said native species in the Bay were in “serious trouble”.
“Introduced predators are one of the main threats to their survival. Some of our native species will become extinct within just two human generations without predator control.”
Lunson said stoats, not rats, were the number 1 predator of native species in New Zealand.
“Today in the BOP we have native skink, gecko and the Hochstetter’s frog, they are particularly vulnerable to rat predation.
“Our BOP coastline is home to many rare migratory shorebirds, the little blue penguin and other ground-nesting birds such as our nationally threatened Australian bittern/matuku and New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu.”
Lunson said beach towns face unique trapping and predator challenges because they “attract vacation pets that can quickly exhibit pest behavior.”
“Dogs and cats are a major threat to our native protected species. Our beloved sand dunes and coastal wetlands have unique flora and fauna ecosystems, providing shelter and feeding habitats for many of our threatened species.
“Respecting that trapping must take place in these areas is essential. It is up to pet owners to respect these prohibited areas and trapping areas.”
Lunson said DoC “recommends the use of traps that have passed the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) testing guidelines. We do not condone trapping that causes any animal to be in unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress”.
“We have proven in many parts of the country that when we remove or manage predators, nature comes back. Even individual actions help nature. If we all play a role in supporting this common cause, the difference will be even greater, more visible and lasting.”
Bay Conservation Alliance CEO Michelle Elborn said the Bay has a large number of pests to contend with.
“You can’t do pest control for a year and walk away or the pests quickly recur, so successful pest control, whether in natural environments or urban areas, achieves the best results with continuous effort.”
She said pest capture is an extremely important part of conservation efforts.
“All pests have an impact and the more we can remove, the more our native birds will thrive.
“The reward comes when you start seeing new or increased numbers of species in your garden, local park or suburb. The way to be more effective is if we all play our part and that’s where backyard trapping is so powerful.
“Not trapping means that the pests have the ability to continue to grow their populations, and as they increase in numbers, they have a devastating effect on our native species… that’s why the trap library is a great opportunity to help get traps across the country. community.”