"Did curiosity kill the possum?" is a project by the East Taranaki Environment Collective, funded through the Curious Minds programme distributed through Venture Taranaki.
East Taranaki Environment Collective conservation manager Kat Strang says the team recently began managing pest control at Everett Park, near Inglewood.
"We took over the community agreement of Everett Park with the Department of Conservation and Pukerangiora hapū."
She says the project is an extension of the work the East Taranaki Environment Collective did with Norfolk School pupils last year.
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"Last year we set up monitoring devices in Everett Park with the help of the pupils to see what pests were in the area. We found there were a lot of possums and rats so this year, we're taking the project to the next level and with the pupils' help we will find out what will work best to get rid of those pests. At the start, we worked with the pupils to make a hypothesis on what trap they believe will work best."
She says with the help of the pupils, a DoC ranger, an environment officer from the Taranaki Regional Council, and Venture Taranaki, they were able to lay out a trap network to target possums in the park.
"There are a lot of possum traps available so we want to test what type of trap is best. We set up four lots of four different traps about three weeks ago. We will pull them out this week."
She says to help monitor the possums' reaction to the traps, cameras have been set up.
"The outcomes of the project will be relevant to the broader predator-free initiative in Taranaki and around New Zealand. We are working to see if curiosity really did kill the possum."
The next step is for the Norfolk School pupils to analyse the data with the help of the East Taranaki Environment Collective field team to come to a conclusion about the best trap to use.
"It's great working with the kids. It teaches them the process behind this science, about the ecological setting and also shows them what they can do to help with conservation."