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Moa Conservation Trust Newsletter Winter 2016
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From the Chair 


I have recently received notification from OSPRI that they are preparing a 1080 aerial operation in the Rimutaka Forest Park during Spring 2016. They are targeting possums as part of their TBfree programme. 

TBfree have a 1080 fact sheet you can access here http://www.1080facts.co.nz/
OSPRI’s 5+ year operation aims to reduce the possum population to low enough numbers to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) which is known to exist in the area. The proposed aerial operation includes the areas we currently trap so the number of possums we catch once the programme commences will dramatically decline.

Although the 1080 programme is specifically targeting possums, both rats and stoats will also be hit hard. The rats will eat the bait (as will the possums) and stoats will feed on the dead rats. The difference being that the rat and stoat population will recover much faster than that of the possum.

For those of us highly motivated by the number of possums cleared from the traps on each trapping excursion, this 1080 aerial campaign may seem rather demoralising. However, it does offer us other great opportunities as it is speeding up the end game we are striving for - ie dramatically reduced predator populations in the bush.

These opportunities provided by OSPRI’s TBfree programme are currently being considered by the trustees in consultation with DOC and other parties, including the Rimutaka Forest Trust. Prior to the proposed 1080 drop we will be advising of health and safety matters for those entering the drop zone. This will also relate to dogs, which are particularly susceptible to the poison. I’ll keep you updated on what it means for our own trapping programme,

In the meantime we will continue the great work we started almost two years ago and rid the forest of possums one by one.

The annual catch-up and trap maintenance weekend at Turere Lodge was a great success. Though we lost a number of intended participants due to unplanned circumstances we managed to achieve all we needed to - with all A12 traps rebaited, re-gassed or replaced as required -  with the added bonus of a couple of evenings in the hut with yummy food, good wine and great company.  Thanks to everyone who contributed to a successful trip.

We’re intending to repeat it all next year, so if you missed out this time there’ll be another opportunity to join us then.

Cheers
Jamie McNaught

 
Jacqui Zorn was one of the Turere Lodge weekenders and this is her first possum .... but with a rural upbringing it was like water off a duck's back!

Did you know?

Well, yes you probably did if you’re reading this newsletter because it’s the sort of thing you’re obviously interested in! But just in case you haven’t been paying attention, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry recently announced the Government’s bold target for New Zealand to be predator free by 2050. You can read her Fairfax Media opinion piece here:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/82972419/predator-free-new-zealand-an-ambitious-and-achievable-challenge--minister

In it she refers to the partnering of large philanthropic organisations such as the Next Foundation with DOC and Forest and Bird, and with community groups such as ourselves, in initiating eradication programmes and working together to achieve a predator free New Zealand. (The innovative self-setting traps that we purchased and installed earlier this year also get a mention.)

With this in mind, a small group of Seatoun residents recently met with Kelvin Hastie – a highly successful pest eradication crusader.

Kelvin, who is promoting Predator Free Wellington, kindly spent an evening telling us how he began his crusade in Crofton Downs and has since been rallying Wellington residents into making their own neighbourhood predator free. With eight suburbs having now used his approach the momentum in creating a predator free Wellington is well underway. Find out how it all started here: 

http://predatorfreenz.org/dont-get-mad-get-trapping/

There's also a podcast:

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/201783682/pest-free-crofton-downs-kelvin-hastie

The approach is pretty straightforward. Community engagement. Distribution of low cost traps. Recording of catch. More community engagement. Experience to date shows that success in a suburb only requires one in five households to be involved and a noticeable impact can be made within weeks rather, than months or years.

Following on from Kelvin’s presentation, the MCT trustees met last week to discuss various matters, one of which was the Predator Free Wellington campaign and how, if at all, MCT could be involved.
 
The upshot from this discussion was that the trustees decided that MCT was ideally set up to drive the campaign on the Peninsula and that we would propose this to Kelvin; this has subsequently been agreed. The proposal is that MCT would initially focus on the Seatoun area and then work from there on progressing across the Peninsula.
 
Hamish Midgley and Deb Harwood have generously put up their hands to drive this programme and will be looking for assistance in its implementation. There is still much planning to do before this campaign is underway, and you will hear about it in due course.
 
In agreeing to support this campaign the trustees all feel that it is essential that MCT clearly separates the efforts and finances associated with its involvement in the Peninsula and the Rimutaka Forest trapping programme. This recognises that not all MCT supporters are domiciled on the Peninsula.
 
You'll be hearing more on this shortly. 

Around the traps


The possum count just keeps on growing – we have notched up more than 1000 possums! Give yourselves a huge pat on the back. 
 
The huge difference in trapping success between 2015 and 2016 is down to the roll out of the new traps - we now have 340 in place -  combined with the ever-growing number of trapping volunteers.
We’re used to seeing Mayoral hopefuls shaking hands and kissing babies but surely having a dead possum by the tail is a first?

Despite seeking election as Wellington Mayor in the local government elections later this year, Jo Coughlan found time to join some friends for a tramp with a purpose when she helped clear some of MCT’s trap lines recently.
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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