A group of volunteers have been trapping around South and North lake at the Rotopiko complex, between Te Awamutu and Ōhaupō on SH 3, for the last five years, but access to trap areas is becoming overgrown and help is needed to keep it clear.
The trapping is undertaken with support from NZ Landcare Trust and National Wetland Trust and is aimed at improving wetland biodiversity around these lakes and protecting any birds that are moving out from inside the predator-proof fence around East lake.
NZ Landcare Trust Waikato regional co-ordinator Nardene Berry says work started in 2016 by a small group of dedicated volunteers.
"They undertake year-round trapping on a three-weekly basis," says Nardene.
"We have 51 DOC 200s around South lake and 21 DOC 200s around North lake.
"These traps target weasels, stoats, hedgehogs and rodents (ship and Norway rats).
"We also have a couple of DOC 250s set out to target ferrets – which are much harder to kill and rarer in this landscape.
"The DOC 200s and DOC 250s are kill traps, which have National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) approval and are the standard kill traps used by DOC and many others for trapping programmes," says Nardene.
To compliment these traps the group has 31 Timms traps around South lake, and 15 Timms traps around North lake to target possums.
Nardene says there has been varied success in trapping possums, so the network was extended to include a number of self setting automatic kill traps from Goodnature.
"We have the A24 for rodents and A12 for possums," she says.
"Eight A12s are set around South lake and two A12s around North lake. There are 13 A24s around South lake and seven A24s around North lake."
Nardene says with this comprehensive network of traps, the group are bringing rodents under control in these wetland systems.
"There is constant reinvasion from outside the lakes, so we are very supportive of people undertaking backyard trapping in Te Awamutu and across the wider landscape," she says.
"There are a number of things to consider when establishing traps to protect biodiversity – as that is our aim, we are not killing pests for the sake of it – we are doing it for the wetland birds and invertebrates, of which many are threatened species."
She says just like the newly established Predator Free Mystery Creek group, only traps are used, no toxins.
To save costs the group works in collaboration with Kaivolution from Hamilton, a food rescue service which distributes excess food to those that need it, and saves food from landfill.
"Sometimes Kaivolution gets meat with damaged packaging, or past its use-by date, and this meat can't be given to humans for consumption," says Nardene.
"Saving it from landfill, we take that meat and use it for lures in our DOC 200 and DOC 250 traps to attract pests.
"This is a lovely story of rescued damaged food being put to good use to kill pests. It's a win-win all round.
"However, one major issue we have is keeping our tracks clear.
"Where we trap there are no formed, public tracks, so the weeds grow over the track between each trap check, especially during the spring and summer.
"As our volunteers are carrying their trapping equipment, it is hard for them to also have to focus on keeping the track clear as well."
The call has gone out for more help, ideally a local business or contractor that could lend or operate a scrubcutting machine, and/or some volunteers who would be willing to help keep the track clear for trappers over spring and summer.
This summer, with heat and some occasional rain, means the weeds, in particular blackberry, inkweed, bindweed and weedy grasses, have thrived, making access around the track and to the traps difficult and hazardous.
For more information about the project go to landcare.org.nz/current-project-item/rotopiko-community-pest-control-project
To help with weed control contact Nardene Berry, 021 395 503 or firstname.lastname@example.org