The why.

Several times I’ve been asked why I’m doing this Predator Free ‘thing’.

It’s a simple question with no simple answer, but perhaps the best word to describe it is community.

We saw 100’s at the Napier launch and 100’s again at the Havelock North launch last weekend. I’ve met with volunteer conservation groups, school groups, businesses and ‘every day people’ – ‘good buggers’ all of them.

We now have over 1000 traps in the community, but the work has just begun and we’ve got a long way to go.

However, yesterday was typical of the sort of thing that has this boomer believing that the future will be in good hands and the best we can do is continue to nurture and foster them; and PFUHB and other predator free programs are doing just that.

I met with Lucy, Charlie and Finn at Hastings Christian School after they had approached me about supporting the program. Great kids doing good things and conducting themselves admirably (…and Lucy’s parents had got a trap at the Havelock launch and caught a big rat almost immediately).

Origami and thank you card from Lucy, Charlie and Finn

Spending time with school groups (I’ve lost count) is a high priority for me – they are the future guardians, our kaitiaki.

This younger generation is a voice for the future and bring an optimism and belief that we can ‘get things right’.

Rats are the obvious problem, however the real problem is we need more people valuing their environment like some of our kids are.

Following meeting with Lucy , Charlie and Finn I met with a Hastings Business Strata who are also busy doing good things and are typical of the people I’m meeting on a daily basis – it keeps me going! Interest from companies supporting PFUHB is such a great vehicle both for funding support but also in socialising the message.

Strangely, the message is not – “kill rats” – it’s more:

“Care for your environment (and here’s a simple way to begin) and show you care for your community”.

So there’s my why – I care for our environment and I care for our community – and rat’s you’ve gotta go.

If you want to join us get in touch. If you’re already behind us (with a trap) – please focus on three things:

  • Tell everyone (Be proud!)
  • Set your trap and check it regularly (don’t give up)
  • Upload your data to trap nz (Contact us if you have issues, we can load details for you to get started)

Also note shortly I will be generating a page with a list of local coordinators so people can go the nearest one – we have about 10 now and need more, but we may as well connect where we can.

The village will raise it!

Born 14 September 2019 – The village will now raise it!!

We had a fantastic launch on 14 September at the Napier Soundshell.

Well over 700 people through and everything gone by 3pm (2pm start time).

However, as totally awesome as that was, I knew this was just the beginning.

We need 5000 or more traps in the community to start making an impact, and although I’m confident we can deliver those traps/tunnels, the kaitiaki rests with the communities of Hawke’s Bay.

PFUHB is an enabling organisation.

We’re looking to take the pain points from people to get more closely involved in their community and connect with Biodiversity in general; trapping rats, though not the obvious starting point, has proven across the country to be a great way to achieve this.

We aim to take care of funding, materials, sponsorship, tunnel design, trap choice (s) and trapping strategy as well as providing a base network for socialisation and acceptance of a Predator Free status for Urban Hawke’s Bay. How cool is that!

We also aim to have local communities create their own flavour – because we’re all different and one size doesn’t fit all.

However, it takes a village – actually it will take 100’s of villages – to raise this ‘baby’ (and put an end to Rat babies)

Too good not to post – taken last weekend whilst walking Te Mata

As a rough summary of some of the great stuff that has happened since launch (not complete by any means):

Jervoistown has been the quickest community to assemble and engage at a very high level. I hope to have over 100 tunnels/traps on the ground within the next 3 weeks. This has been a tremendous initiative led by Julie Thomas and supported by ‘a village’ (I will do a separate post on Jervoistown in coming weeks)

Havelock North, through the initiative of Michelle Hicks and Paul Terry, is underway with planning their launch for early November. We aim to have at least 400 tunnels and traps to issue and with the enthusiasm and support of Carl Vose at Havelock High School and others they now have the means to achieve it.

Tim McVeagh from Pirimai put up his hand to help build tunnels and help co-ordinate that region – in addition to stepping into the breach the very next day to help me knock out another 250 kits.

Tim Race is ready to run a group in Onekawa and has already had each of his class assemble a tunnel.

Ros Stewart and Lyndsey Swann have thrown in their support to rally people in part of the Bluff Hill area.

Sharelle Creswell at Top 10 Holiday Park in Hastings is hoping to start a community around her area once through a busy schedule.

I have similar offers from Haumoana and Taradale and several other areas around the hill in Napier – and trust me if I haven’t caught up to you, or got back to you – I’m trying!

I have several schools already engaged – and for me these are the most exciting and rewarding of visits.

It’s a blast!

However, we can’t have too many volunteers and in particular we need people to act as a hub within their community and coordinate maybe 50 or 100 traps (most of it remotely – nudging emails, connecting with PFUHB for more materials etc.). It’s not hard work – in fact I pretty much guarantee you will find it very rewarding.

Please connect if you would like to get involved – in particular in the Hastings area.

What’s next?

We aim to have a launch in Havelock North – probably the 9th November – final details t.b.a.

A launch in Hastings at the end of November – final details t.b.a.

We are moving to a redesigned tunnel and more trap selections (base model free, other ones at a cost to user)

Tumu timber are moving into a specialised production phase for us and we expect to be able to hit 1500 tunnels out in the community by year end.

The database from the Napier launch has been punched in thanks to Sue Calcinai from Redcliffe homestead this week and I encourage everyone to now register join our group and load their trap and catches – it’s all we ask for making the tunnel and trap free.

Generally where are we going?

Stage 1 Make traps available.

Stage 2 Engage communities across the bay to embrace and care for the use of those traps.

Stage 3 Educate people in their use and make trapping predators as common and accepted as mowing the lawn (probably make it more accepted and more fun).

Stage 4  Communities celebrate a new connectedness and shape their own biodiverse future, with new vigour and understanding

In some places we haven’t got to stage one in other places (Jervoistown) we’re at stage 4 already!

If we haven’t got to your community yet – we’re coming – or simply invite us in.

If you (by ‘you’ we mean a community of 20 or more people who want to get a programme underway) and can’t wait, then you’ll make our day – let us know and we’ll see what we can fast track things in your direction.

Thanks for all your support thus far – and remember if you have a trap – apart from baiting and monitoring it – the best thing you can do is encourage your neighbors and friends to get on board too.

Remember Rats are like sesame seeds in a colander – until we close all the holes they just run straight through.

Come on neighbor join the fun…

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