Traps could endanger Redwoods' reputation

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PHOTO/FILE
PHOTO/FILE

Leg-hold traps are not a big safety concern for Tarawera Ultramarathon runners this weekend, but they could damage the Redwoods' reputation, says the event's race director.

The traps were found in the Redwoods section of Whakarewarewa Forest last week and a further two were found over the long weekend.

Tarawera Ultramarathon race director Tim Day said that from an event perspective the traps didn't cause a huge concern for runners' safety.

"Like anything in our forest, we are worrying about treefalls and the weather, this is just another thing to keep in mind. The bigger concern is the damage to our reputation."

He said because the traps were found off the tracks they weren't a big concern for the runners, they were more of a concern for pets and kids playing hide and seek.

Mr Day said it was irresponsible and a bit disappointing to see that kind of behaviour in a recreational area.

"Whoever is doing it is probably collecting possum fur, but the reality is they will be way more out of pocket now that they have lost all of their traps.

"We do a lot of trail care to look after our forest but to put traps like these in a public space is very irresponsible."

Two more traps were found over the weekend, making a total of seven found in the last two weeks in the Redwoods, Rotorua Lakes Council sports and recreation manager Rob Pitkethley said.

"We can't be certain how many traps there are so we're urging people to remain vigilant for now and to stick to the tracks, keep children close by and keep dogs on a short leash.
"Staff are on high alert and keeping an eye out and we're very grateful for the public's help in alerting us to traps they see," Mr Pitkethley said.

The traps are of a variety known as leg-hold traps which are legal for trapping possums, rather than being gin traps which have "teeth" and are now illegal.

"While they may be legal traps, we don't allow trapping in the Redwoods and nobody has been granted permission to do this," said Mr Pitkethley.

"Trappers are required by legislation to gain landowners' permission before setting traps so whoever is responsible has taken it upon themselves without asking for permission.

"So far it seems the traps are confined to the Redwoods - we've seen and heard nothing at this stage to suggest they're anywhere else in the wider forest.

"Some of the traps people found have been visible from tracks but others have been on the ground behind trees and not necessarily immediately obvious. The Redwoods is a busy part of Whakarewarewa Forest and public safety is our main concern," Mr Pitkethley said.

Anyone who finds a trap should report it immediately - either by calling the council on (07) 348 4199 or going to the Redwoods information centre on Long Mile Rd. People should also report anyone they see behaving suspiciously in this area.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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