Chew Card Volunteers needed – become a citizen scientist!

Join Pest Free Kaipātiki in the first steps to protect our bush and birds from rats and possums!

Possums and rats prey on birds and their eggs

Possums and rats are largely responsible for reducing native bird populations. / Credit: Nga Manu images

Here’s your chance to get involved in some real-world citizen science! The Pest Free Kaipātiki ‘Monitoring & Data’ team is gearing up for Stage I of their monitoring programme – the laying out and retrieval of about 400 “chew cards” in our Kaipātiki Reserves over the next month, using an evidence-based approach.

Working together with Kaipatiki Project and RIMU (Auckland Council Research and Evaluation Unit) the goal is to establish a baseline measurement for the predator population in order to determine how we can all make Kaipātiki pest-free by 2026! This data will provide an ongoing science-based yardstick to measure our progress to bringing back our native birdlife.

We need your support! Whether you are an existing bush reserve volunteer, or a newbie wanting to get involved to learn more, please register as one of our Chew Card volunteers and encourage your neighbours, colleagues, family and friends to register too. We will provide training and support.

Click here to register using our Chew Card Volunteer sign up form before 5pm, Thursday July 13th.

What’s involved exactly?

1 x Training Session Thursday July 20 at 3pm - at Kaipātiki Project Environment Centre, 17 Lauderdale Rd, Birkdale. There we will explain where and how to install the cards and how locations are mapped and GPS located. You’ll get enough information to train other volunteers too. [Note: More times may be added for people who can’t make this session].

2 x Sessions in the bush ‘Walking the line’ – one walk nailing up pre-labelled chew cards to marked trees, followed by another walk retrieving all chew cards, 3 days later. (MUST be completed between July 20 and 9 August).

1 x Returning your chew cards and recorded data before Thursday August 10 to 17 Lauderdale Road, Birkdale.

Ronan Whyte setting out chew cards earlier this year./ Kaipatiki Project

Ronan Whyte setting out chew cards earlier this year./ Kaipatiki Project

Ways to get involved

Volunteer as an individual – we’ll find you a partner and try to match you to your preferred Kaipātiki suburb or reserve (note - not all reserves are being monitored in this round).

Volunteer as a pair – share this with a friend, sign up together and nominate a partner.

Volunteer as a family - kids love seeing what chew cards can tell us about the predators in the bush. Helping with chew card monitoring is a great way to safely introduce families of school age children to our reserves. Working in guided groups on easy terrain, parent-child teams can enjoy an adventurous science lesson and learn first-hand all about the battle to protect our birds and wildlife.

Kids can learn more about the predation of native birds from the Science Learning Hub -

Got a Question?

Read the FAQs below or email us -


What happens next?

Once you have signed up - we will follow up with an email and contact you with Chew Card updates and reminders. We hope you’ll opt-in to subscribe to our regular PFK emails too.

What is involved on the Training session?

Training will be provided but you will need to be:

a. confident working off trail in bush (you will be in pairs for safety)

b. comfortable to learn how to use a GPS tool to find the marked trees

You will be provided with:

A map showing the lines of GPS locations of marked trees, and pre-labelled chew cards to be nailed to marked trees. We will allocate reserves according to local interest but we may need volunteers to do other reserves they are not normally working in. Kauri Dieback spray bottles will be provided if required.

What is a Chew Card? Where are they placed?

A chew card is a small piece of coreflute impregnated with tasty stuff that rats and possums might like to eat. Because some predators are shy of bait stations and traps, the chew card is more likely to give a true indication of what predators are in an area of bush.

Chew card with bite marks

The idea is that the predators bite the card - leaving their teeth marks. Each species has distinctive teeth marks, so we can analyse what sort of rodents are in the area. Chew cards should not be left out more than 3 days, or the teeth marks can become obliterated.

Each chew card has a unique ID on it and should be placed in the GPS location marked on the planning map. This means that the scientists who analyse the card know what rodents are in each location. The lines setup on the maps have been designed scientifically to give a randomised sample of locations across Kaipātiki.

You may have seen chew card marker tags in our reserves. Chew card sites are also identified by blue plastic ties – usually secured to a tree, sometimes within view of the track. These help our monitoring teams to find their chew cards sites quickly and easily, so please, don’t remove them!

I have been monitoring and trapping pests on my property. How can my data be added to the baseline data?

Yes! Please email us telling us what data you have - we’ll provide a spreadsheet that you can add your data to; then we’ll upload it.

Will the data be published?

The data will be stored and managed by RIMU and aggregated with other monitoring information they collect. Results will be published – watch this space!


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