More than 200 keen pest controllers, forest savers and kiwi kaitiaki attended a Northland Pest Control wananga/workshop at Akerama Marae, organised by Kiwi Coast and the Northland Regional Council. They came from 73 community groups, hapu-led projects, agencies and organisations from across the region, to learn about new trapping technology and pest control tools, and to share their skills and knowledge with one another.
Kiwi Coast co-ordinator Ngaire Sullivan said it was critical to continue building the capacity of Northlanders to tackle pests.
"Whether it's reviving native forests, boosting local kiwi populations or preparing to reintroduce a lost species to an area, clearing out the pests is key," she said.
"We need to ensure those keen to get involved in pest control have the skills and resources to do an efficient job out there in the forests. This annual workshop is one of way of keeping people upskilled, motivated and aware of what everyone else is doing."
And the success of Northland's collaborative community-led pest control was evident in the collation of trap catch data undertaken each year by Kiwi Coast.
"Over the past six years, Northlanders have trapped 297,753 animal pests such as possums, rats, stoats, feral cats, wild rabbits and weasels. Last year alone, 28,475 possums were trapped. As a result, many native forest areas in Northland are beginning to flourish again," Ms Sullivan said.
The pest control data were collated from 123 groups and projects linked into the Kiwi Coast initiative. Collectively, approximately 155,000ha of Northland was being managed for pests, each group or project focusing on their "patch" while contributing to the bigger picture.
"There is a good history of community-led pest control in the North, with some of our landcare groups operating for over 20 years. Ensuring these projects can keep going and stay on top of the pests using new tools and technology is essential," she added.
New pest control technology featured at the workshop included an automated bait station developed by Northlander Shane Hyde, the Econode remote Biosecurity Monitoring Tool and the self-resetting AT220 multi-species trap being developed by NZ Autotraps.
Key Industries, an Auckland based supplier of pest control systems, sponsored the workshop for the third year running, and was also represented with a stall featuring a wide range of pest control products suitable for everyone from backyard trappers to projects covering thousands of hectares.
Northland Regional Council biosecurity officer Pete Graham, who presented emerging opportunities to support communities in ideas for predator-free peninsulas, said the council was keen to help communities move beyond the cycle of pest control and re-invasion. The next step was to figure out how to eradicate pests, with peninsulas the first logical choice, and then defend them from re-invasion.
Anyone wanting to get involved can contact Kiwi Coast or the NRC biosecurity team.