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Last rat survey before barriers installed in Miramar

The last of three surveys of rat populations in Miramar designed to help in exterminating predators from the peninsula is taking place this week.

Volunteers have been out and about placing chew cards throughout the peninsula to help create a final picture of the extent and location of its rat populations.

Placement went ahead yesterday on an extensive grid across the peninsula, ahead of later “sealing it off” from encroachment by rats and other predators from nearby suburbs.

The cards, which use peanut butter to attract the animals, are designed to stay in place for three nights. They record chewing by pests, and while rats and stoats are being targeted the cards also record signs of other pest mammals such as hedgehogs and mice.

“The survey will help us find the best locations on the peninsula for trapping rats, and help us gauge the success of the tremendous effort the community has put into making Miramar predator free ,” says Dr Philippa Crisp from Environmental Science at Greater Wellington Regional Council. “We hope it will further the tremendous success of the volunteers in Predator Free Miramar, who over the past year have trapped 2949 rats, 10 stoats, 174 hedgehogs and 2937 mice.”

Volunteers from Conservation Volunteers NZ and BECA placed and will collect the cards across the 200m x 200m grid which covers the entirety of the Miramar Peninsula.

“This is the first time this technique has been used over such a lengthy time period, on this scale and in an urban setting. The suite of three surveys will provide us with an accurate record of what we are dealing with on the peninsula.”

Predator Free Wellington Ltd is a foundational partnership between Greater Wellington, Wellington City Council, the NEXT Foundation and Iwi, and is funded from the Predator Free F2050 fund.

Its initial focus is on eradicating rats and stoats from Miramar Peninsula, with a plan to extend the strategy to eradicating introduced predators of native birds across the entire Wellington City area. Miramar was chosen as the first area to attempt rat and stoat eradication as it is a peninsula (it’s easier to control the pest immigration boundary) and possums were eradicated from the area in 2006.

Predator Free Wellington Ltd is working with ZIP (Zero Invasive Predators) to bring innovation and research to the fore in developing an appropriate barrier to prevent predators getting back on to the Peninsula post eradication. This will include the first ever 'urban virtual barrier system'.

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