A walk in the park

Today I met with the very knowledgeable and enthusiastic Tony Oliver (formerly Auckland Southern Regional Parks Manager) and we discussed predator control  and biodiversity in general.

Tony lives adjacent to Maggie’s Way – an area that astounded me with it’s potential – and I confess prior to this visit I didn’t even know about it.

A small section of Maggies Way – not the best photo’s but i wanted to show what a positive impact even a small ribbon of planting could have in enhancing the environment for both people and species – this is biodiversity folks!

The moderately sized ribbons of young trees (mainly, but not all natives) supported a healthy population of Tui, Bellbirds, Fantails, Kingfishers, though strangely missing were Pukeko.

Tony has been successfully trapping rats on his property/bush and as we walked evidence of rats and or mustelids was aplenty – another pointer that only doing control in isolated pockets is an uphill battle, but you gotta start somewhere, right!

Headless Tui – Yes, a Headless Tui

As mentioned previously many people are in denial about the predators that are around. This was only a short walk (20 minutes at most) and apart from being somewhat concerned about the appropriateness of some of the plantings the real shock was finding this headless Tui which I would estimate had been dead less than 48 hours.

This is our own back yard, and it’s happening every day, everywhere, and it’s why we need to get underway.

The Tui has probably lost its head while protecting its nest and eggs.

As a brief update I now have materials for building tunnels and over 500 traps waiting for homes. I’m expecting to co-ordinate a day to prepare and assemble tunnel materials – at this stage looking like September 1st, with the public launch to be held at the Soundshell on September 14th from 12pm onwards.

Please distribute this post as far and wide as you can and email me – richard@predatorfreeuhb.com – directly if you can assist with either cutting and assembling tunnels on September 1st or for distribution of traps and tunnels and general promotion of PFUHB on the 14th.

All go – Rat De(d)co here we come.

I’m really about 4 posts behind so you’ll need to bear with me if this jumps about a bit.

The news is all good. In fact it’s outstanding.

Traps:

We currently have orders out for 950 traps – about 6% of which will be targeted at mustelids, another 6% at possums and the balance at rats.

We are in the process of confirming an order with Tumu Timbers for the materials for the tunnels which we will start to prepare through mid to late August (see later in terms of volunteers).

Meetings

In the past week or so I have met with Napier City Council, DOC, HBRC, HB Biodiversity Foundation, Tumu Timbers, Cape Sanctuary and various Candidates for the forthcoming local body elections. Tomorrow I meet with Stuart Nash, MP for Napier.

All of these meetings have been incredibly supportive and encouraging and affirm that the time is right for significant change in the urban environments around Hawke’s Bay. This change fits perfectly within the picture for much of Urban New Zealand (see the hyperlinks below for a very recent story and an older one), and to be honest it is desperately needed.

Myths

As conversations develop on this topic I am constantly coming across myths that people establish for themselves.

Here is the number 1 myth:

“Oh I got rid of the rats, my cat “Biggles” is a great rat catcher we don’t have them anymore”

To which I respond – internally – “Bollocks!” and externally – “Well, I think you’ll find they are still about.”

I’m sure that a short way into this programme we will start reshaping people’s ideas on how many rats and other predators we have in our urban communities, but we all need to be aware that we have a lot of people in denial.

I ask anyone engaging with this programme to never give up – keep setting the traps, the rats will not go away – presently we can suppress them but we cannot eliminate them, and for everyone of us that knows rats are a problem, there is someone denying the same (and probably claiming the earth is flat too).

This recent article is well worth reading – both as encouragement and confirmation we are on the right path:

Backyard trapping – Stuff

Launch – September 14th, 12- 4pm

After an initial scare that 14th September is Hastings Blossom festival parade, we have decided to go ahead and actually work that to our advantage.

DOC have been tremendously supportive in incorporating this into Conservation week and helping me bring all the pieces together.

We have the Soundshell booked from late morning and will start issuing traps and information at midday, with an official ‘opening’ at 2 pm. All going well there could be a sausage or two as well.

This means families can attend the blossom festival and swing by the Soundshell on the way home – our own sort of “trap”.

We plan to start more actively publicising this is a few weeks’ time, but please in the meantime don’t hold back on spreading the word about this programme and the launch on September 14th.

We will have a large number of traps and tunnels to be issued and hope to have all the key connected players and agencies available to talk about both this programme and biodiversity in general.

This is getting serious – I need Help!

Lastly, I have had a number of people connect with me and indicate they are willing to take traps etc. which is awesome, I’m hoping i can get traps and tunnels to these people by the first week in September.

What I need to do now is start bringing together a core group of people who can play a slightly bigger role.

If you think this is you please contact me directly richard@predatorfreeuhb.com

Details are yet to be finalised but this extra support will be something like:

  • Help in cutting and assembling tunnels and traps for the launch – handymen/women – this is likely to take place on the last Sunday in August probably at Tumu site in Ahuriri.
  • Become part of a core team which will maintain/reset the DOC200 mustelid traps and the Possum traps.
  • Become part of a core team that will become certified in handling baits and assist on a weekly basis in rebaiting stations (probably a 5km walk for each person over varying terrain). This is not likely to be underway until late in the year.

Also I had approached two local web companies to help get this site up, but neither were interested, so if anyone knows of someone who could help I would appreciate it (just wanting to make it a bit slicker and promote sponsors supporters etc.) not a lot of time or effort required for someone who knows what they are doing.

Watch this space…

Also with the Help of the Hawke’s Bay Biodiversity Trust I have a submission in for $30,000 further funding which would make an enormous impact on the area we could cover.

I’m also hopeful that with a successful public launch we can get some key sponsors interested in supporting this cause. In the meantime if you or someone you know might be interested please get in touch.

That’s all for now, hopefully see you in September or before if you put your hand out for some extra activities!

Richard

..and lastly a link to another article outlining where all this began..

Where it all began – Kelvin Hastie

Image from http://graemesimpsonphotography.com