Predator Control Update
The merging of the Manawahe Eco Trust and the Kokako Trust is now complete, apart from deciding on a new name. We hope to announce this soon!
The first combined task has been our pre-poisoning rodent monitor which was completed last week and the results were 10% mice, 33% invertebrates and 6% rat tracking. Any rat index below 5% is considered a good result so this is ok for a pre toxin monitor. Areas with no rat control routinely show tracking indices over 80%. We will complete another monitor 6 weeks after our toxin rounds.
We will need to run 3 baiting days to cover the McIvor Rd. to the Cell Tower area so anyone willing to give up a morning for a walk in the bush should let us know. The tentative dates are the 16th and 30th of September as a start.
The cat trapping programme in the top of the Cell Tower has finished as we have not had any new captures for a few weeks. In total 9 feral cats have been removed and we are now moving the traps to focus on a new area. We have trialed adding an automatic feeder to the top of our cage traps to try and reduce the labour involved in continually replacing baits. Landowners are welcome to borrow cage traps if they have feral cat issues.
We have been putting out a number of new AT220 resetting traps and they are proving their worth with groups of dead possums under many of the traps. Our plan is to get more of these out in the field hoping they can mop up the reinvading possums in the months between our bating rounds.
Wildlands Consulting have offered to start the removal of the Strawberry dogwood from the school grounds, felling and chipping the larger trees and cutting and pasting the smaller ones. They are spreading rapidly and grow in thickets under native canopy so are a real threat to the integrity of the Manawahe native blocks.
The Kokako population in the Rotoehu forest is doing very well and the long-term future of the Manawahe population probably relies on getting some genetic intermixing between these two populations. The fragmentation of the Manawahe bush blocks has isolated populations of many native species and linking corridors of vegetation would do much to help reduce their isolation. In the case of Kokako, the geographical distance separating the two Kokako populations is just a few kilometers. The good news is that Kokako don’t need corridors of large areas of native plants to move through and narrow riparian strips of fast growing exotics could enable birds to move to new areas. A challenge to achieve but could be a game changer for our native species.
We are continuing to replant the area east of the school and another 250 plants will be going in the ground over the next few weeks. These will be frost resistant varieties!
The last of winter has been swept out the old school door with a spring clean and we are rearing for a long warm season of eco adventuring in Manawahe!
Last month I took a group from Tarawera High school on a trek along a trap line. They found rat monitoring stations (with insect prints galore- no nasties), identified many native trees, and stumbled upon a weasel, who had met its match in a DOC200. We had a brilliant time, challenging in places, and I was reminded that going for a walk with young people really brings out what’s on their minds and gives us space to talk. It’s something about the beat of the walk, the fresh air and the million things to comment on when we need to change the subject. I recommend it! Particularly along a trap line!
The film project with Lake Rotoma School is still ongoing. The students have taken to it and have created scenes that will put the fear of Tāne-mahuta into any pest in the Manawahe Eco Corridor! We have been working on the score most recently and will start filming this week.
The much-anticipated Manawahe Adventure race will take place on the 24th of October. If you have a year 7, 8, 9, or 10 student who would like to enter, tell them to ask their PE teacher today.
Environmental Educator, MECC