Introduced species are estimated to kill 25 million native New Zealand birds a year. Rats specifically have a major impact due to their broad and competitive diet of bird’s eggs, fledglings, seeds, snails, lizards, fruit, weta, larvae and flowers.
Rat populations have burgeoned in the last couple of years with warmer weather.
I found the consequences of baiting for rats unpleasant and costly. Observing rats dying a painful death, the smell of decomposing rats in the walls, and thirsty rats chewing through plastic water pipes, made me seek alternative, more humane options for control.
I joined the backyard trapping service provided by the Karioi Project https://www.karioiproject.co.nz/, which employs local school leavers who are trained and skilled at detecting and baiting rats. Within 3 weeks, four large rats were caught and killed instantly in Victor traps baited with peanut butter.
Rat numbers are entered on a national database and mapped, to get an understanding of the estimated numbers caught, the method, and the location.
Kairoi Project offers a number of programmes and services for neighbourhoods with pest problems. A full service which provides the opportunity for school leavers to find employment in the local community, purchase the traps from Karioi Project and trap yourself and register the kills with the Backyard trapping database. Karioi Project also provides advice, assessments, training, school programmes, and has a large pool of volunteers who run and check trap lines on Karioi maunga.
The longer-term aim of the project is for Raglan locals to join forces to control invasive predators which impact on native wildlife and make Whaingaroa predator free.
Cats, although much loved pets are also hunters by nature. To lessen their impact, keep cats inside at night, microchip them, and if possible, limit their time outside, or if home and doable, supervise their outings.
Short Tailed bats Pekapeka are NZ’s only native land mammal and are considered to be at risk due to predation and habitat loss. Amazingly, short tailed bats have recently been detected in urban areas, Greenslade Road and Bow Street in Raglan. Help bats by leaving trees and vegetation on your property, lock cats in at night and trap for rats, stoats and possums.
Protecting and supporting our native biodiversity, whilst supporting a local community initiative and school leavers into local meaningful employment is a win win win.