Things were looking good at the start of the year at The Blade — at the top of Whakamarama Road. Possum and rat kills were down to a "trickle" each week, apart from the newly-added trap lines on the eastern boundary of the 300 hectare area, and the birdlife was thriving.

Then the team at The Blade stayed away for six weeks for safety reasons while the "roar" was on, leaving the bush to the hunters. During the break the wonderful volunteers made up another 100 rat trap boxes, so these can now be deployed over this year around the southern 10 lines to complete areas expanded into earlier this year.

Upon their return, they discovered the pests had marched back on in from surrounding bush and farmland, and kill counts have mushroomed back up to levels not seen in well over a year.

"We urgently need to get back on top of pest numbers before they get out of control. Can everyone please come in weekly until we do?", said co-ordinator Colin Hewens.

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Volunteer Louise Carnie with a stoat, left and weasel from May 24. She and husband Hamish look after two 2 km stoat lines on Ngamarama and Ngamuwahine tracks.
Volunteer Louise Carnie with a stoat, left and weasel from May 24. She and husband Hamish look after two 2 km stoat lines on Ngamarama and Ngamuwahine tracks.

Since May 3 when trapping resumed they have recorded 370 rats, 85 possums, 34 mice, 3 stoats, 2 weasels and a feral cat. As a result, the latest numbers are beginning to decline again, but with a big hit last weekend of three stoats and two weasels, as these ruthless killers begin to enter traps as their rodent supplies run low.

Over a week ago there were not only possums and rats deleted from the bush, but also four stoats and two weasels, which is a record mustelid haul on a single day.

Colin is very keen to hear from anyone who can spare a couple of hours once a week or even once a fortnight, to take on one of the lines that's all set up and ready to go.

"Teaming up with a buddy so that you can cover for each other if one can't make it is ideal, but training is provided and all you need is a pair of boots, a small backpack to carry the baiting equipment, and enthusiasm for protecting our beautiful native bush and its native birds."

Please give Colin a call if you are keen to help, on 552-6771 or 022-315-5646.

Volunteer Louise Carnie with a stoat, left and weasel from May 24. She and husband Hamish look after two 2 km stoat lines on Ngamarama and Ngamuwahine tracks.
A weasel caught in a rat trap on line 2.