Initial Chew Card Results

A big thank you to all the fantastic volunteers, schools and neighbours that have got on board with this month’s Citizen Science Chew Card Campaign!

Despite the horrible weather, volunteers braved the elements and went ‘treasure’ hunting across 42 reserves in Kaipātiki. This treasure – being several special spots in reserves where together as a community we monitor the type and abundance of pest animals. So far, 628 chew cards have been deployed by volunteers in reserves, 104 by RIMU (council) staff, 66 out into the community by students of the wonderful St Mary’s School and numerous others put out and sent in by members of the public. Why do this?

Well essentially - if we want a forest that spreads its wonderful native seed, grows a healthy next generation and provides a safe environment for native flora and fauna (including yes – our quirky and precious rare birds), we want to reduce pest abundances (amounts) to 5% or below.

Chew cards on such a scale as our Chew Card Campaign allow us to see how pest populations change and are hopefully reduced as volunteers trap in reserves, or residents trap in their backyards.

The good news is, (from a quick glance before our official results come in), that we have fewer bite marks in areas where volunteers are trapping or baiting. Hadfield reserve in particular had fewer marks which might be down to all the wonderful neighbours who are trapping as part of the enhanced halo in the area!

The ‘not so good news’ however, is that results appear bad on the whole compared to previous years. We expected this due to the countries ‘Mega-Mast’ which you may have seen in the news. Forest food goes up during a mast, invertebrates and bird counts go up (great!), but sadly so do pest populations – particularly mice and rats in Auckland. Our challenge and call to action now is to get ready to trap those pests asap and remove them from the ecosystem before they reach their peak breeding season – and chomp their way through our forests, reserves, backyards and walls!

The solution is easy – get a trap or bait station for your place, and control pests four times a year. There is lots of help available – thanks to our funders like the Kaipātiki Local Board, Birkenhead Licensing Trust, and Auckland Council – check out www.pestfreekaipatiki.org.nz/predator-control for how you can get involved with Kaipātiki’s biggest pest challenge.

And now for a few more stories of the Chew Card Campaign:

  • One wonderful volunteer despite some hardships with some of the monitoring stations in Onepoto mailed in how much she enjoyed the treasure hunt “It was like a giant geocache game…. Definitely keen to do it again next year”. The volunteer team who looked after the reserve this year hosted a Cubs group. We particularly liked how you appropriately named these young citizen scientists the ‘Puddle jumpers’ group! Well done to you all for getting out and exploring the reserve, and thank you for your contributions to science!

  • Look at what volunteers in Birkenhead War Memorial came across while doing the monitoring line!