Whio watch­ers weather the wet and wild

The Tribune (NZ) - - OUT & ABOUT - SARAH GALLEY

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.

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