Whio watchers weather the wet and wild
with an easy tramp from the Peterson’s Road car park down through native bush dominated by beech trees, over a quirky curved bridge and up to the Alice Nash Heritage Lodge.
At the lodge, Trust volunteers demonstrated how their traps are maintained, before clearing a trap containing a nicely decomposed rat. The approximately 500 RWPT traps around the Oroua River are checked monthly, except in winter when they are covered with snow.
It’s a site that protects at least five pairs of whio, maybe more. Although the traps catch both rats and stoats, they particularly tar- get stoats. Known for their ferocious appetites, stoats like to feed on whio eggs, nestlings, and adult birds as well as a host of other native wildlife.
Show and tell over, it was time for the field trip participants to get a feel of what is involved in actually checking a trap line for themselves. ‘‘There are a variety of trap lines to choose from depending on fitness and experience. Some are easy day tramps, others are more strenuous or may involve staying overnight in a back country hut,’’ the RWPT’s Janet Wilson said.
Those keen for a good workout took the more strenuous trap line which leads steeply down to the Oroua River, while those wanting a more leisurely walk checked traps along the track to the Oroua campsite.
By this time, rain was falling heavily but that did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. They were all getting to grips with finding and checking the traps. The pest count for the day – lots of rats - but no stoats.
RWPT members are expanding their network of traps and are looking for more volunteers to help with trap checks and administration. Anyone interested should contact Janet Wilson 027 341 8945 or
Ruahine Whio Protection Trust chair Janet Wilson shows Sylvia Battley a decomposing rat from one of the Oroua traps.