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Annual Project Co-ordinators Report

Predator Trapping  – During the past year we have been successful in using funding from the Regionals Council’s EEF and from DOC to consolidate and extend our predator control.  We have a long term plan of extending a perimeter of traps around the Manawahe corridor margins and we have made progress towards achieving that goal.

Progress report on trapping extension

Eastern Boundary – Braemar Road runs North- South along the base of the Manawahe escarpment and forms the eastern boundary of the Manawahe corridor. We have divided this into two blocks, Braemar South which runs up to the Tumarau wetland and Braemar North extending from the wetland to the Awakaponga Hall. We completed the Braemar South trap line earlier last year and have 22 traps in place and being serviced by a local landowner. We now have completed the northern part of Braemar Road with 20 traps in place and a local care group has been set up and is now managing this trap line.

Northern Boundary – The Northern boundary of the corridor runs from Matata to Herepuru Rd.

Last time we reported that we have installed traps around the Matata lagoon and that Matata School was looking after these traps. Unfortunately eight of these traps were stolen, however we have got eight replacement traps ready to go back in place and we also have a local volunteer to help the school ensure these are regularly checked. This time the traps will be firmly anchored to posts.

We also reported that we have 24 traps on the Weeks property which is at the Northern end of Herepuru rd. We have now put a trap line on Week’s eastern neighbour’s property which extends along the coast to the Matata Scenic Reserve. As a result we have been able to link up the Herepuru Rd. traps with the DOC Scenic Reserve at Matata.   DOC is putting in place some pest control in the scenic reserve and this will support the trapping effort going on around the lagoon and on the private land. This will complete the link from Herepuru Rd to the ocean at Matata.

Internal Trap lines –  We have completed a trial of 40 self-resetting traps on Gray’s property which is at the Northern limit of the bush block containing the Kokako population. The trial compared 20 Goodnature resetting traps with 20 of NZ Autotrap’s resetting traps.  Our interest in the self re-setting traps is based on the need to get landscape control with limited manpower. The trial involved camera monitoring pairs of traps over a period of 10 months. The NZ Autotraps proved to have a much higher kill rate. After discussion about the results of this trial NZ Autotraps has come up with some modifications to their stoat trap and we did some testing of this updated version. As a result of these trials all of their traps are now currently back in the workshop having modifications installed. As soon as we get the updated version they will go back into Veryn Gray’s block to form a trapping boundary on the northern part of the Kokako area. The 20 Goodnature resetting traps have been relocated on Mountfort’s property which is about 10 km up  Herepuru Road and has significant areas of protected native forest. Interestingly we changed the bait from a rabbit based bait to a sachet containing a blood based bait and the landowner reports a good catch rate (traps all have counters installed). The trapping trial also showed us the value of game cameras as monitoring tools so we obtained funding from the Mazda Foundation to purchase 10 good quality cameras. We have installed a bait station network and a few traps on a lifestyle property on Manawahe Road to protect a small bush block and we continue to support landowners who want a couple of traps to place around their properties as part of our community trapper programme. We have ordered six of NZ Autotraps AT220 traps which will reset 100 times and will target possums, rats and feral cats. Forest and Bird’s local branch has also sponsored four of these for MET to use. Once these are delivered we will have 10 traps to use on a mobile basis to target cats and possums where we perceive a need. Forest and Bird has also kindly sponsored five of Steve Allan’s cat traps and I have just placed them around the block where the Kokako have been translocated to support this project. These traps are being monitored by cameras so we can learn more about the interactions of pest species with these traps. We have also have 20 DOC 200 traps on order to continue extending our trapping within the corridor

We have increased the level of control around our Ecocentre on Manawahe Rd by putting in place a bait station network to support the traps we have in place. Our trapping trial showed us how often pest species visit, but do not enter traps. So in our new projects we are now trying to use a combination of poison stations and traps to achieve better control.

We have attracted some new volunteers from Manawahe Rd and from the wider community, however we have lost some volunteers as well. This has meant we are struggling to cover our existing trapping commitments and will need to increase our volunteer pool in order to expand our coverage. MET relies heavily on a small group of dedicated volunteers who do an amazing job of regularly servicing their trap lines and I really want to acknowledge their dedication and the excellent support of landowners.

Our catch data over the last 12 months is as follows; Feral Cats 10, Ferrets  8, Rats 200, Stoats 26,

Weasels  8. Hedgehogs 118, Mice 16.

The results are an underestimate as we have 40 resetting traps which don’t often have a dead pest to record as the bodies are usually scavenged.

Rat and Possum ControlThanks to our volunteers we continue to run an effective control programme in the Pickford/Cell tower area with 350 bait stations which have been successful in keeping rat and possum numbers very low. We are running two big baiting days a year and on each day we usually get about 25 volunteers who help fill all of the stations. We are very grateful for the support from MKT and the Kiwi Trust in promoting the baiting day. This year was a very good year for rodents and our latest monitor was 8% which is one of the highest ones we have had and is well above our target of less than 5% tracking.

To keep the volunteer’s feet dry we installed a very solid foot bridge over the creek at the bottom of the cell tower. Thanks to Mahy Crane Hire, Whakatane District Council, Bunnings, Tony Lumsden, Tim MacIntosh, Graeme Bagnall, Peter Murnane and Steve Everett. A real team effort, it should last many years.

BrowsersWallaby and deer are spread throughout the bush blocks and are becoming an increasingly significant issue. There has also been stock incursions into Karaponga reserve and the Cell Tower blocks due to inadequate fences. Both of these issues undermine the work we are all doing and set back the restoration process.

Community linksIt was sad to see Liddy leave but it has been great to have Helen on board and I have done several days’ work helping with school groups. I organised the purchase and delivery of trees for Jones property and the planting is well underway although it now seems unlikely that we will get funding from the Billion Trees programme. I continue to work closely with the Kokako Trust attending their baiting and track clearing days and also their meetings.  MKT and MET have formed a combined management group to oversee all of the interactions between the Regional Council and the Manawahe project and have presented a combined budget to the council covering the work of both groups. Each trust will continue to function independently under this umbrella group. I am part of the group that carried out the Kokako translocation that occurred in August 2019.

I also continue to be on the HALO board and represent the interests of the Manawahe trusts on this board.

 

Peter Fergusson