Animal Pests

Photo: Anna White

Help Where It’s Needed

We have a contract with Auckland Council, established by will of the community many years ago, to control possums on the Awhitu Peninsula. One of the foremost initiatives was to run a ‘bait line’ across the southern end of the Peninsula, effectively attempting to create a mainland island. We continue to maintain this line of regularly-monitored bait stations from west coast to east, across many properties. 

In addition to the southern bait line we have recently initiated a northern bait line, as the majority of large bush areas are at the tip of the Peninsula and were proving to be great fodder for possums. In between our southern and northern lines, we have many bait and trap lines over public land which are regularly monitored. Of course we cannot cover the whole 22,000 hectares of the Peninsula and this is where the active participation of landowners is integral to the success of the programme. For detailed instructions about how to set up bait stations, please click here to download the instruction sheet.

Landcare can supply traps, bait stations, bait and advice

But we need owners to carry out the legwork of pest control on their own properties. Unfortunately, if landowners are unwilling to do this, even small areas can quickly become infested with possums, which then spread out into neighbouring ‘clean’ areas. And so the battle continues. If hot spots (large possum infestations) develop, and the landowner is willing, we are sometimes available to go in and intensively try to reduce possum numbers within an identified area. However, if Landcare do this, we would expect the landowner to continue effective pest control once numbers have been reduced.

We use a variety of different methods for possum control and our efforts are scientifically measured by the industry-accepted method (RTC’s -Residual Trap Catches) every few months. This gives as accurate picture as possible as to possum numbers in monitored areas, and has the added benefit of reducing possums. It is the RTC measurement index which has reduced over 20 years from 40% in some Awhitu areas down to an average of under 5% today. A detailed description of how our pest control programme works is available to download here.

Our work with possums also targets rats

Rats are not welcome anywhere, and do untold damage to native wildlife, devouring seeds, eggs, young birds and insects. Luckily, most households these days recognise that rats need to be controlled and take responsibility for this around their own properties, especially in Autumn when rats head towards warm places such as house ceilings.

Mustelids are another very difficult predator pest we target. We have organised trap lines across a particularly susceptible area of the Peninsula where (unbelievably) ferrets were once allowed to be farmed.

As is the case in many rural areas, we have an ongoing problem with wild cats – in increasing numbers due to regularly dumped kittens. Wild cats would have to be the most difficult predator to deal with – we have cat traps available for loan. And every so often we have initiatives such as giving away cat collars for domesticated moggies, also a significant destroyer of our vulnerable native wildlife.