Kia ora Predator Free Whitford trappers!
Just like that, we’re in the later parts of winter, 2023. While the garden maintenance needs are low, and lambing and calving are well under way (so you’re moving around the property daily checking on things anyway), remember to factor in checking your predator control stations.
We recently came across the perceived difference between ‘pest’ control and ‘predator’ control, and are consciously trying to call it predator control as a result! Aside from the fact that “pests” include both animals and plants (and we need to take action on those invasive pest plant species too!), when it comes to the animal forms of pests and predators, Sam the Trap Man (on Instagram) spoke of the connotations of each word. The word ‘pest’ has negative connotations and as a result we are inclined to despise these animals. Because of this perception, through choice of language, we aren’t as inclined to place certain animals in the category of pest animals – like hedgehogs or feral cats, even though they can be equally damaging to our native wildlife.
However, the word ‘predator’ encompasses all animals that feed on other animals to survive. To us, the word also commands a degree of respect and awe for those animals. Predatory mammals, which have a significant impact on our native ecosystems, still deserve respect. They are extremely successful here due to adaptations to life in their homeland, and those adaptations make them over-qualified to succeed in ours. This disrupts the natural balance and will lead to further extinctions if we do nothing. However, their intelligence, ability to feel and experience pain or suffering, along with their fighting spirit still deserve respect. Hence, when controlling these animals, we need to be conscious of doing so humanely. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns on this topic – we’re here to help.
A massive thank you to those who are regularly reporting catch tallies via the trap.nz app and email. It really helps us to efficiently keep track of what’s happening out there. If you haven’t already, try signing up to trap.nz and join the Predator Free Whitford project. We can organise for someone to come and do a 1 – 1 tutorial on the use of the app if needed.
The catch tallies on trap.nz for Predator Free Franklin as a whole (including us!) add up to over 21,000 predators or other invasive species, and of course doesn’t include the impact we’ve been making with baiting. Ka pai e te whanau!
As of 1 July, we headed into a new reporting year for trap catches. If you have outstanding reports for the 1 July 2022 – 30 June 2023 period that haven’t been loaded into TrapNZ, get them to us ASAP via email so that we can look at how we’ve done over the past 12 months.
On the topic of data and reports – let’s not forget why we’re doing all this trapping and baiting in the first place – to help our native wildlife. How about collecting some data on the birds that are using your property, or anywhere in our neighbourhood, so we can track how our mahi in predator control is paying off and helping to increase the birds and diversity of species that share our neighbourhood with us. Predator Free NZ have published some handy tips and information about the 5-minute bird counts here, and it can all be logged in TrapNZ.
You don’t need to be a professional bird taxonomist and the counts only need a short amount of your time (the clue is in the title), plus you’ll benefit from some nature time. So let’s get out bird watching!
If predator control is getting on top of you, you’re finding it hard to keep up, or struggling with the size of your property, there is help which you can access for free. Te Ara Hīkoi have been recipient of a significant amount of funding via the Department of Conservation’s Jobs For Nature programme. With this money, local rangatahi (youth) have been recruited to aid landowners in their predator control efforts across the Franklin area. If you would like to enquire as to whether your property may be a candidate for support, please email the programme manager Colin Pukeiti at email@example.com.
Finally, we’d like to thank you all for your ongoing support of the mahi we do. It’s what keeps that ball rolling forward.
Sarah Blong, Gerry and Kat Whitehouse-Tedd
Predator Control Co-ordinators
Predator Free Whitford