A group of locals around Lake Okareka who banded together to help look after their environment have recently caught their 1000th rat.

The group have been carrying out pest control at Lake Okareka and around the foreshore since September 2013, with permission from the Department of Conservation.

Group member Mike Vincent said some people who took part belonged to Forest and Bird and Land Care Okareka, but half of them did not belong to any group and volunteered because they were interested in helping the wildlife.

He said it started as every year they count the number of little birds, called dabchicks, in the area, and the Department of Conservation ended up giving traps out to people who helped with chick counting.


Dabchicks are as unique to New Zealand as the tui, and since they had started trapping, the numbers of these birds had increased in the area, he said.

Mr Vincent said they were originally given 10 traps in September 2013, but they now had 108, with the Lake Okareka Community Association having paid for quite a few.

"There are a lot of predators that will eat birds and eggs when they are nesting and they are vulnerable."

He said he did not think their situation with predators was any worse than anywhere else in New Zealand.

"It's very satisfying because you are making a small difference to New Zealand being pest free."

Mr Vincent said they also catch hedgehogs, ferrets, stoats and weasels, and the group has put in 800 man hours.

He said as they get more traps they want to get more people involved.

Group member Steve Webb said he had been part of the Lake Okareka pest control group for about 18 months.

"I wanted to help the community out and wanted to help look after the environment.

"It's great to know you are making a difference."

He said helping support rare bird numbers was the main reason for the pest control.