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Monitoring Miramar’s rats and stoats

13 March 2017

Monitoring Miramar’s rats and stoats first step towards eradication

A huge effort to distribute nearly 300 “chew cards” on one day will take place this week in a key step towards eradicating rats and stoats on the Miramar Peninsula in support of Wellington’s goal of becoming the world’s first predator-free capital.

The cards are being laid in a trial to identify the scale of the rat population on the peninsula, which has been possum-free since 2006. They will be placed by volunteers from the Wellington Orienteering Club, Conservation Volunteers NZ and Wellington International Airport staff using a 200m x 200m grid to cover all of the Miramar Peninsula, including the airport.

“The cards, which use peanut butter to attract the animals, will stay in place for three nights. They will record chewing by pests, and while we’re targeting rats we will also record signs of other pest mammals such as hedgehogs and mice,” says Dr Philippa Crisp from Environmental Science at Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Greater Wellington Regional Council will interpret the chew cards and report the information to the Predator Free Wellington Technical Advice Group.

“The data should give us a good indication of the extent of predator populations and show changes over time. This is the first time this technique has been used on this scale and in an urban setting.”

Dr Crisp says that monitoring our success in reducing pest populations and will be carried out once or twice a year.

Wellington City Council is partnering with NEXT Foundation and Greater Wellington Regional Council with the goal of making Wellington the first predator-free capital city. The initial focus is on eradicating rats and stoats from Miramar Peninsula, with a plan to extend the strategy across the entire Wellington City area.

Miramar Peninsula was chosen as the first area to attempt predator eradication as it is a peninsula (it’s easier to control the pest immigration boundary) and possums were eradicated from the area in 2006.

It is proposed that rat and stoat control will be completed using a combination of citizen and professional pest control.

Seatoun residents are already up for the challenge, they have announced their involvement in the campaign through Predator Free Seatoun and have begun backyard trapping.

ENDS

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