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Monthly Update May 2020

Education Report

It is nice to be in Level 2 and to be able to get out and about a little more.

I have enjoyed being back in the bush, filling bait stations and checking traps as well as being involved in the health checks on KIWI.  Tho in terms of actual work I am really starting to miss engaging with students.

Schools are in a difficult situation; many are very keen to get their students to settle into the routine of school again.  Although EOTC programmes can work, it is definitely more difficult under the level 2 guidelines, most enquiries are for term 3 and mostly term 4.

However, I am super excited Trident GBI is booked into the centre for the 10th to the 12th of June and the Special Education centre is booked in for the 16th of June.

In the last month:

  • I have checked the centre: set mouse and rat traps in the house, garage and the classroom.
  • Checked the main traps around the centre.
  • Started to put together a big picture plan for Education at Manawahe.
  • Computer research into other Environmental Education programmes around NZ. I plan to visit Brian Ireland who works for the Bay Conservation Alliance as their Environmental Educator.
  • Added a Covid 19 safety requirements document to the Safety Management plan for schools.

Marketing:  I am keen to try and get into the individual schools and do a presentation at a staff meeting on what we offer up at the centre. I would like to work more with Matata School and promote the local learning curriculum with them.  They are already involved in doing the trapline around the Matata lagoon.

And our thanks to Jo MacIntosh for the odd weeding and security checks on our buildings. Much appreciated Jo!

Helen Dobbin

 

Project Co-ordinators Report

Trapping

We are now on monthly rounds so the Covid standown did not make an enormous difference to our trap rounds. We continue to have three lines without trapper volunteers so Fran, Helen and I cover these lines.

As part of the cell tower trap line reorganisation (going from 2 lines to 3) I have put six new traps on the V line in the cell tower and used the new DOC 200s in a white plastic box and I have been pleasantly surprised at how well they are working  on rats and hedgehogs.

I continue to monitor the SA cat kill traps and caught one cat in the cell tower over the lockdown.

The 10 AT220 traps we have are generally going well and continue to kill rats and possums so are mopping up pests in between our baiting rounds. Five of these have cameras on them and it is very interesting to see what is going on in the bush. Feral pigs are now present in big numbers and are visiting the traps and eating the possums and rats that fall out onto the forest floor. The cameras show lots of wallaby and deer recordings are common.  The bait consistency issues seem to have been resolved and NZ Autotraps have given us some replacement bait. I have also brought 20litres of egg mayonnaise as a cheaper alternative. ZIP (Zero Introduced Predators) use this as a rat and stoat lure.

The 20 NZ Autotrap rat/stoat version that we have on Gray’s property are killing rats well apart from one which is malfunctioning.

I have had a discussion with Dale Williams, who is the Regional Council’s wallaby expert and he is keen for us to try the AT220 traps as a wallaby control measure so this will be an interesting field trial for us to be involved in. DOC has promised us sixnew AT220 traps so I propose to set these up for wallaby and monitor them with cameras. If they can be made to work this would be significant as there is not an effective wallaby trap at present.

During lock down I have been doing some research on trapping and Cacophony Website has lots of research on predator control. One of their studies found that less than 10% of the animals that are recorded near a trap actually interact and get caught. They rate trapping as a relatively weak control tool. Our cameras do show lots of visits without captures but an individual may visit the trap several times before deciding to interact and get killed.

Baiting

By the end of the month we will have done all our baiting in Pococks and the Cell Tower – thanks to an amazing team of volunteers some of whom have done three days for us. Every baiting day I am always humbled by the enthusiasm and commitment of our wonderful volunteers.

This time we have put out a lot of feratox as I think there are quite a number of possums appearing in the Cell Tower as the AT220s keep having possum kills. Our prebaiting monitor was 6% rats which is quite low given it has been a good season for rats and we are a month behind due to the shutdown. The rat tracking target for kokako breeding is 5% or less.

General

I put out bat detection devices in the cell tower and in Gray’s bush but am waiting on DOC to send me the software I need to analyse the data.

Peter Fergusson