Pub­lic take on pests

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Hun­dreds of pos­sums and ro­dents caught at Waikowhai Re­serve are no killing trees, and a group of com­mit­ted vol­un­teers wants to keep it that way.

Con­ser­va­tion Vol­un­teers New Zealand is hold­ing a pest con­trol train­ing ses­sion this Satur­day at the re­serve – to get the up­per hand on pos­sum and ro­dent num­bers in Auck­land parks.

More than 400 pos­sums have been caught in Waikowhai Re­serve alone since the Auck­land Parks Vol­un­teer Preda­tor Con­trol Pro­gramme be­gan in 2004.

Hills­bor­ough vol­un­teer Mike Edg­ing­ton wants to make sure work con­tin­ues to make parks and re­serves pest-free.

‘‘The more peo­ple that un­der­stand the dam­age th­ese an­i­mals do to na­tive wildlife the more able we are to pro­tect our parks,’’ he says.

Mr Edg­ing­ton hopes the pro­gramme will spread to other parks, in­clud­ing Hills­bor­ough’s re­serves which have a large preda­tor prob­lem, he says.

Con­ser­va­tion Vol­un­teers pro­ject co-or­di­na­tor Clair Hobi says vol­un­teers have made a huge im­pact on na­tive wildlife by re­duc­ing pest num­bers.

‘‘ . . . pos­sums will sim­ply eat a tree to death, re­turn­ing again and again for any new growth.

‘‘Those 400 pos­sums would be re­spon­si­ble for eat­ing around 44 tonnes of food each year.’’

In the pro­gramme, in part­ner- ship with Auck­land Coun­cil, 120 vol­un­teers in 11 parks check a trap line at a time and fre­quency that suits them.

Vol­un­teers walk for up to 11⁄ hours along their line of traps.

On Satur­day, vol­un­teers will learn all as­pects of preda­tor con­trol, in­clud­ing equip­ment demon­stra­tions and safety mea­sures.

Once trained, vol­un­teers can be ros­tered on to check a trap line at parks all over Auck­land, in­clud­ing Mt Eden, Roy Cle­ments Tree­way and Waikowhai Re­serve.

Phone 0800 567 686 or email info@con­ser­va­tion­vol­un­teers.co.nz to book a place for the ses­sion. Book­ings are es­sen­tial.

Photo: ROBERT CHARLES

Pest: Train­ing ses­sions are op­er­at­ing in Waikowhai Re­serve this Satur­day to re­cruit vol­un­teers to help con­trol pos­sums and ro­dents which are de­stroy­ing na­tive wildlife.

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