School’s trapping hitting the mark

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EVELYN.THORN@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

The Blue Mountain College pest trapping scheme is still proving successful in keeping native› destroying beasties atbay.

Project co›ordinator Ken Munro said the project, first established in 2017, had been a way for pupils at the college to further their Duke of Edinburgh qualifications by setting up traps throughout the Tapanui area, in particular at Whiskey Gully and Black Gully. The trapping was ongoing, in order to keep the numbers of pests damaging wildlife and birdlife in the surrounds under control.

Mr Munro said pupils seeking to meet their Duke of Edinburgh qualifications through high school had the option of using pest trapping as a way of obtaining their ‘‘gold’’ status.

‘‘We have eight students who have taken up pest trapping, and every two weeks they have to check and set the 10 box traps for their gold qualification,’’ Mr Munro said.

‘‘In our first year, we caught 10 stoats and 14 rats, and in our most successful year, we caught over 200 predators, the majority of which were also rats and stoats,’’ he said.

Mr Munro collected feedback from the general public and locals who walked the trails regularly as a way to track progress and confirm what they were doing was working.

‘‘People who walk the track a lot have reported that they hear a lot more birdlife over the time since we put the pest trapping scheme into place,’’ he said.

Mr Munro said those reports matched his own experiences out in the field.

‘‘Personally, I have seen more rata blossom, there have been more berries on bushes, and there are generally less pests around the area. They are the main problem, with eating the berries from the bushes and killing birds around the area,’’ he said.

Mr Munro hopes to be able to put more gas traps around the loop track in Black Gully, but said it was a matter of sourcing funding.

The price of purchasing the traps and putting them throughout the gully would be $2000.

The group had held a quiz night previously at the Tapanui Town and Country Club to raise money for extra traps and managed to raise $900, which was enough to purchase CO2 gas canisters for their mechanical pest traps.

Mr Munro said they were looking forward to holding further fundraising so as to expand the traps through more areas in the gullies, to keep pest numbers down and keep nature flourishing in Tapanui.