Volunteer organisation Predator Free Cambridge has been nominated for the 2022 Volunteering Waikato Team Excellence Award for its efforts and initiatives to protect indigenous birds and wildlife.
The 50 volunteers from Predator Free Cambridge are involved in helping native fauna and flora by trapping stoats, rats, possums, and other pests on Waipā District Council land across the town.
The group is part of Predator Free 2050, a nationwide initiative by the Central Government and the Department of Conservation to eliminate introduced predators.
Predator Free Cambridge was formed in 2017 on the initiative of resident Adam Thompson, who funded the first trap meeting.
The group's community coordinator Karen Barlow says they would target the three main predators rats, possums, and stoats as those did the most damage, however other predators like hedgehogs, ferrets and weasels were also trapped.
"Eggs, chicks, and even some adult birds are eaten by predators. Invertebrates, lizards, and bats are also eaten."
She wants to make clear the group was not about killing animals.
"The volunteers ... are nature-lovers and they want to protect native species.
"However, in order to protect native animals, we end up having to remove the predators. I think that's quite a big distinction."
Waipā biodiversity planner Hilary Webb says Predator Free Cambridge's work contributed to the national goal of eradicating animal pests by 2050.
"We fully support Predator Free Cambridge's nomination for the ... award and are proud of this recognition of their work, which has made a noticeable difference to our unique native bird, bat and insect species.
"The team is also going above and beyond by assisting with the survey of long-tailed bats in Cambridge. Both the trapping work and the survey will contribute to the protection of this critically threatened native mammal."
The traps are sold at the Cambridge i-Site and local residents are asked to keep track of their traps and catches using the free Trap.NZ app.
The award recipients will be announced during National Volunteer Week from June 19 to 25.
Barlow said the group was always looking for volunteers to help service a trap line for rats, stoats, and possums. People who are interested in volunteering can inquire via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neighbouring Predator Free Te Awamutu volunteer group is also looking for volunteers after it received a share of $50,000 funding from Predator Free New Zealand to assist with trapping in and around Te Awamutu, Pirongia and Maungatautari.