Towards Predator-Free Taranaki is calling on locals with backyard rat traps to ensure they are set, baited, checked regularly and catches are recorded.

Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project manager Toby Shanley says with the country in lockdown due to Covid-19, project volunteers are no longer checking traps in public parks and reserves and rural trapping by project staff and contractors is temporarily on hold.

However those in both urban and rural areas still have an important role to play in keeping predators on their property under control, Toby says.

"Now is the perfect time for urban residents to check their existing rat traps are good to go. If you have one lying around you haven't used in a while, dust it off and set it up in your backyard or garden."

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He says with winter approaching, rats are most likely to go into homes looking for food and warmth.

"Being in lockdown with your family or flatmates can be challenging enough, without adding rats to the bubble."

Toby says people who already own traps should ensure they are set and freshly baited – peanut butter is a favourite – and checked daily. Their trap should be registered on www.trap.nz and catches recorded.

He says both the website and app are simple and quick to use. Recording catches helps Towards Predator-Free Taranaki monitor the success of the project and identify any rat hotspots.

Farmers and rural landowners are also encouraged to regularly check and bait traps on the properties on which they are in lockdown.

Towards Predator-Free Taranaki works with schools, community organisations, iwi and volunteers across the region to protect Taranaki wildlife and native bush from introduced predators such as rats, possums and mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets).

For more information on the project, including how you can buy a $10 rat trap when the lockdown is over, go to www.trc.govt.nz/pf-taranaki2050 or follow Towards Predator-Free Taranaki on Facebook.