Getting rid of rats

By Nicholas McBride

A proactive group of locals have been doing their part to rid the Matua estuary of as many rats as they can.
In co-operation with Environment Bay Of Plenty, the Matua Estuary Caregroup and other volunteers have been setting bait stations to reduce the number of rats in the area since September.
The aim of the project was to enable birds to breed, and rats, being the most prevalent pest in the area, were the primary target for eradication.
Caregroup Co-ordinator Jerry Cowper said the group originally focused on mangrove control around the estuary.
"We want to maintain the health of the estuary, that's paramount. Ratting is the natural progression from that."
Environment BOP Officer Braden Rowson recognised the benefits of this work.
"The aim is to reduce the rodent numbers sufficiently during the bird breeding and nesting season to allow successful fledging."
When the Tauranga City Council got consent for mechanical removal of mangroves, this freed up members of the caregroup. Then at the suggestion of Don Merton, a long-time conservationist and Matua resident, the ratting project was initiated.
The result of this work means that birds around the area, such as the kingfisher, will now have a safer place to breed.
Mr Merton said that reptiles, invertebrates and plants also stood to benefit from the reduction of the pest.
The early stages of the project frequently saw heavy activity. In one case the top of the bait station had been chewed off to get access to the bait.
Mr Cowper acknowledged that the activity had slowly become more sporadic since then but that uptake of the bait confirmed the presence of rats.
The stations use bait to attract the rats but the width of the tunnels prevents other animals from reaching it.

The stations also force the rats to eat the bait there and it only takes about one block of bait to kill the rats.
The caregroup received Trustpower environmental awards in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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