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Moa Conservation Trust Newsletter Autumn 2017
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From the Chair 


Welcome to our first newsletter for 2017. I have been keeping subscribers informed via email but thought it would be timely to provide an update on what's been happening and what's planned for the year ahead.


Firstly, it’s been business as usual for the Moa trapping team. During the past year we have again trapped a large number of possums. It is difficult to provide an exact figure as the self-setting A12 traps make multiple kills and by the time we check them carcasses have either rotted away or been eaten by other predators which makes a body count a bit tricky.

However, a conservative estimate, based on kill rates on other traplines and observation of the A12s, is that we have caught in excess of 1200 possums. 
 
The trapping team have been doing a sterling job - over 1200 kills is an outstanding effort.
Secondly, things are about to change in the Rimutaka Forest. As advised in our last Newsletter – Winter 2016 - and my email updates since, OSPRI are due to make a pre-feed drop in early May before making a 1080 drop several weeks later.

The OSPRI programme is scheduled to run for the next five to six years with one or two additional 1080 drops to meet their objective of eradicating TB from the southern Rimutaka area. During this time the possum numbers are anticipated to be at low levels, which means there will be little need to continue our trapping. However, we do plan to continue it after the first 1080 drop to gauge its initial effectiveness.  

With low possum numbers expected at the end of the 1080 programme our strategy is to take advantage of this and prevent their re-establishment by extending our trapping zone using the Goodnature A12 multi-kill resetting traps. This is still a number of years away and the situation may change, but the planning for it has already started and we have set aside funds towards the purchase and installation of possum traps in due course. 

But in the meantime, there is still going to be plenty to do!

Earlier this year I advised of a project we had been working on with DOC and the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust (RFPT). This is now about to happen.

The project has been developed on the back of the 1080 programme and the impact it will have on not only the possum population for which it is targeted, but also on stoats and rats. The plan is to have traps operating around the time of the 1080 drop to contain the ensuing reduced stoat and rat populations and inhibit reinvasion.

RFPT have been trapping these predators in the park since the late 1980s and as a result have been able to establish a growing population of kiwis. You can check out their website here RFPT to find out more about the work they have been doing.  

The basis of the project is that DOC are providing $200k to purchase 1000+ A24 Goodnature re-setting traps and ancillary equipment, and the RFPT and MCT will manage their operation. Approximately 1/3  of these traps will be installed within the existing trapping area currently operated by RFPT and the remaining installed on new traplines on the east side of the Orongorongo River.

The bulk of the funds will cover the initial purchase of the traps. We will also be buying more first aid kits and personal locator beacons to help keep everyone safe out in the field. And we’ll be getting GPS equipment too for recording the new traps’ locations on the eastern side of the Orongorongo River to help find them when they are due to be serviced.

The project’s purpose is to grow kiwi, kakariki, karearea populations in the park and prepare for the release of kaka by 2018. Although the existing kiwi population has already been found to be migrating well outside of the existing ‘protection zone’, the kakariki and karearea are known to be in very small numbers in the park. They and other birdlife will also benefit from the extended trapping area. 

RFPT will be responsible for servicing and maintaining the new A24s within the existing trapping zone – literally alongside their existing DOC200 traps. The concept is that the A24s will target rats (ie with rat lure) and the single kill DOC200 traps will target stoats. While the rat population is at high levels experience has been that the DOC200s are ‘clogged’ with rat kills and not available to kill stoats, which are kiwis’ greatest predator. Having the additional A24s will alleviate this problem.

MCT will service and maintain the new A24s to be installed on the eastern side of the Orongorongo River targeting stoats -  this will extend the potential safe area for kiwis and other native birds from 3000ha to 5000ha. These traps will only require six-monthly checks and will be done through a combination of volunteer and contractor resources.

Extending our trapping programme obviously means additional resources are required in terms of funds and people to keep it going. We are more than confident we have the capability to do this and more.

Phew. It’s a lot to take on but it’s fantastic to be part of making Predator Free New Zealand a reality.


Cheers
Jamie McNaught

 
WE NEED YOU!

If you look back over earlier newsletters you’ll find photos of volunteers, loaded like pack-ponies and armed with electric drills, heading into the hills to install the original Trapinators and, subsequently, A12 traps.

Well, we need you to do it all again! Keep reading.....

Around the traps
 

The roar, as all the hunters out there will know, should be over by mid-May. So the deployment for the new A24 traps is planned after this. We will be working over four days from Saturday 13th to Tuesday 16th May incorporating both a weekend and week-days to hopefully suit the needs of participants. 

DOC will be coordinating the logistics associated with the trap deployment, including transport, equipment, accommodation and food. Accommodation will be available at the Land Care facility on the banks of the Orongorongo River. DOC will also be providing manpower each day and are reaching out to their networks to invite other ‘conservators’ to assist in the deployment. We are targeting 18 – 20 people as the ideal number to help.   

If you would like to be involved for some or all of the time please contact Deb McNaught via moaconservationtrust@gmail.com to let her know your availability. More details will be provided once we have an indication of numbers interested and their availability to assist.
 
Belynda Jack is the newest recruit to our intrepid band of trappers.

Did you know?

That we have a break-out group? Well, more of a sub-set really, but Predator Free Seatoun is up and running. More than 200 households in Seatoun have registered and currently they are catching rodents at a rate of five per day! You can check out their facebook page here.

If you are interested in helping your own suburb aim to be Predator Free, have a look at Predator Free Wellington - a joint venture between Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NEXT Foundation. You can contact NEXT foundation's community champion Kelvin Hastie to see if there’s an existing group in your area, or to get some advice about how to get one started.  

Be part of the trapping team – contact our Trapping Manager Deb McNaught moaconservationtrust@gmail.com to find out what’s involved. 
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