We all had successes during lockdown – some focussed on up-skilling, some caught up on farm maintenance and some got on with home renovations. Some decided to give our local ecosystems a boost and catch one pest per day!

A Hunua property successfully trapped one pest each day during level 4 lockdown, with some particularly interesting successes. After spotting a ferret on the trail camera on day 1, they successfully trapped it on day 2.

Trail camera image of a ferret, Day 1 of Lockdown

Small successes in the following days, but no less relevant, included rats and mice. A possum ceased to be after an encounter with a Goodnature trap, followed by a second ferret on day 5.

With the traps empty on day 6, hubby was sent to roam the farm with the rifle on strict instructions not to return without a rabbit. In the following days both rats and rabbits were shot, maintaining the ‘one pest per day’ track record.

With traps remaining quiet, some research into lures produced further successes. Nutella, peanut butter and kibbled wheat were mixed and used to entice rats and mice.

Double trouble!

The live trap was moved from the previous ferret-hotspot to the driveway, 800m away, and another possum was secured. It’s meat was used to bait the trap for the following night, enticing in a third ferret.

Week 4 of lockdown and the pest count continued to climb with rats, mice, possums and rabbits falling victim to this family’s persistent efforts. A feral kitten was added to the tally.

In the final week, a fourth ferret was one of the unlucky victims. The ferrets were frozen and saved for taxidermy and stomach content and DNA analysis, to better understand local and national population composition and movements.

Three of the four ferrets caught on a Hunua property during lockdown.

Due to their efforts, our native species are the lucky ones. They now have a better chance of survival. The local eel was sighted in the fifth and final week of level 4 lockdown as a reminder of what these efforts are striving towards. Healthier rivers, healthier animals, healthier biodiversity, healthier environment. Healthier planet.

If you catch any ferrets on your property, bag and date them and place in the freezer so that they can be used for research purposes. Contact Willow at willowsengineroom@gmail.com to organise pickup.