25 June 2020 at 11:13 AM
Rats and stoats are on borrowed time as the Arthur's Pass Wildlife Trust prepares to set more than 130 new traps, donated by Orion, the local power lines company.
Native bird life is being threatened by these voracious predators which have grown in large numbers over autumn, thanks to a mega mast season that provided abundant food in the form of mice and prompted increased breeding.
The Trust’s Chairperson, Peter Neale, says the traps are vital to stem rampant local predator population growth that is threatening native birds such as kiwi, kea and rock wren.
“When the predator’s food source dries up they turn to native birds and lizards. Our native species are not well adapted to these predators and have poor defenses against them.
“Native bird eggs and chicks could be eaten in large numbers this year. It’s possible we’ll see entire local populations decimated, unless we take drastic action.”
The traps are being laid in the Mt Aicken, Bealey, Mingha and Edwards River valley areas of Arthur’s Pass National Park, and will be cleared and reset by Trust members and volunteers.
The new traps will boost trap numbers in the area by 15 per cent.
Once they lose their pine-fresh smell and acclimatise, over spring the new traps are expected to catch more than 100 predators a month, and significantly slow their growth in numbers.
Orion Sustainability and Business Improvement Lead, Cassandra Herbert, says the traps enable the company to support the only national park in its distribution region and give Orion people the chance to use their construction skills.
“Rather than get the traps ready-made, our staff offered to assemble them from kit-sets, which meant we could provide more of them.
“It was a great project for the weekend, and a very practical way we could help the sustainability of an important part of our region.”