Predator Blitz Update

Here are the results of our first three pulses (Nov, Jan-Feb, April)...

There are a lot less of these guys around thanks to all your efforts! / Photo: Fiona Smal

The Predator Blitz is a community rat trapping project taking place across Kaipātiki’s reserves and private backyards in the ‘halo’. Three pulses in, our community rat blitz now covers 9 reserves and 6 halo communities - in properties surrounding reserves. Our Predator Blitz volunteers and halos have collectively deployed more than 209 rat bait stations and 118 rat traps, and clocked up a grand total of 589 volunteer hours (reserves and halos combined). In Kaipātiki reserves, we estimate the rat population in reserves using bait has been decreased by an estimated 6,395 rats!*

Not surprisingly, in the Chew Card monitoring last year, large bush reserves had some of the highest rodent incidence while smaller bush reserves had the least. The bait uptake from the last 3 pulses shows Shepherds Park had the highest bait take per hectare, while Arcadia Reserve, and Birkenhead War Memorial Park (BWMP) had the lowest, despite a higher indication in chew card monitoring.

In trapping reserves, Eskdale have reported low catch rates. Derek Craig reported their first kill just five minutes after the trap was set! Eskdale and Ridgewood both had the same problem of mice (or insects) eating the peanut butter without triggering the rat traps. See this handy recipe for a longer-lasting peanut butter trap lure mixture that BWMP volunteer Philippa has kindly shared.

Can you beat this legendary catch? Three rats caught by the Kaipātiki Project / Photo: Derek Craig

Overall, this is a great start in getting those rodents out of ceiling spaces, backyards, parks and native bush areas. 
With further control and monitoring, we intend to determine whether the results we got are due to trap locations, or some other factor.

Predator Blitz Results per reserve (Nov, Jan and Apr)

* Maximum based on amount of bait eaten, lethal dose (Bell Laboratories). Estimate excludes rats eradicated in the halo. ^ Data deficient at this time. Shepherds Park case study

The maps of Shepherds Park bait uptake over three pulses (see below) are invaluable in showing where rats have been most active at stations. There is a definitive influx or higher population in the same western area and an increase over the autumn and winter months.

Fig 1. Shepherds Park Heat Map #1 - results from Pulse 1, November 2017. Each circle represents a 50m diameter.

Fig 2. Shepherds Park Heat Map #2 - results from Pulse 2, February 2018.

Fig 3. Shepherds Park Heat Map #3 - results from Pulse 3, April 2018.

Further monitoring will determine whether the trapping to date has made an impact since this time last year. Has anyone in the urban area to the west of this park had issues with rats? The baiting in the reserve will be helping reduce the rodents in the housing area, but it would be far more effective if residents could put a single trap or bait station in their own backyards.

Halo results

There are now six halos in Kaipātiki: Hadfield-Island Bay Rat Free Community Group, Fernglen-Muriel Fisher, Willow Bay, Eskdale, Wernham Ave and Tuff Crater. Data on pulse participants and trap sales is still being collected from our halo teams, but overall there has been some great energy and enthusiasm particularly in the Birkdale and Beach Haven areas.

6 halo communities (including 2 pilot self-funding halos)​​

  • 78 halo volunteers

  • 118 halo volunteer hours (coordinator and volunteers)

  • 79 rat stations sold

  • 58 rat traps sold across all halos (including Goodnature A24s)

Contact Fiona (contact details at end of this blog) and she will put you in contact with your nearest street coordinator.

Grant and Jo Knight of the Hadfield Island Bay Rat Free Community - join them on Facebook. / Photo: Pam Templeton

What kind of rats are being found / trapped?

Ship rats have been found or trapped in urban reserves (Stancich, pictured), 
while sightings of larger Norway rats were found in Shepherds Park, and other bush-clad reserves with waterways.

Ship rat in Stancich Reserve, January 2018 / Photo: Pam Templeton

What about the possums?

In January, Birkenhead War Memorial Park set out the first possum traps and have caught four possums. Adding Timms traps to existing trap lines means all traps can be checked simultaneously, but more volunteers are always needed - do let us know if you are keen to help.

How are we coordinating with other predator control programmes?

Wildlands are contracted to cover predator control in High Value reserves (eg. Kauri Park, Kauri Point Centennial Park, Chelsea Heritage Estate, Kauri Glen, Le Roys Bush, etc). We are working with Wildlands to improve sharing of data.

What effect has this had on the native wildlife? While we can’t claim with certainty that our last three pulses have directly resulted in the regeneration of native wildlife, our volunteers and residents have reported several positive signs (anecdotally):

  • More bird nests and fledglings - more fantails and regular sightings of kākā in the area (several sightings of a family groups of up to four kākā).

  • More seed on the ground and native seedlings have emerged (tarairi, tawa, puriri, kohekohe and kōwhai).

  • More large insects around like wētā (which means more food for other species like the kokupu (native trout), ruru (morepork or native owl) and native bat. 

  • More fungi and greater biodiversity overall

Birds Nest Fungi found this time last year during the Chew Card campaign / Photo: Fiona Smal

In future, we hope to also monitor native wildlife populations, so we can chart our impact more effectively.

A few acknowledgements... Congratulations to all our teams and halos for your work so far. Thanks to the reserve regulars who ‘walk the line’ each time (especially David, Carlo and Les, and a couple of others, who attended every line check). We hope you enjoyed yourselves and the break before we swing into action again in August. Thanks also to the street coordinators developing neighbourhood halos (Jill, Maury and Jo, in particular) who have been door-knocking, answering questions, arranging trap sales and deliveries to residents. Special thanks also to Fiona Smal, for doing such a smashing job of managing this project!And of course, all our sponsors for the campaign - the Kaipātiki Local Board, Auckland Council, Predator Free and Kiwibank and the Birkenhead Licensing Trust.

Join the next pulse The next pulse (synchronised rat baiting cycle) starts in August. Whether you have seen rats on your property or not, they are there - so now is the time to buy a trap and join the pulse.

Pest Free Kaipātiki offers Kaipātiki residents affordable traps or stations so you can take part on your property. Download the Predator Blitz order form or drop us a line.

If anyone out there reading this wants to develop a halo and share this meaningful work, do get in touch with us and we can help you through the process.

New reserve volunteers are always welcome to help spread the load in existing, or help set up a new reserve trapping team.

Shepherds Park Trapping team putting out their first rat trap, November 2018 / Photo: Pam Templeton

It’s the volunteers and halo participants in the community that make it all happen. We can get the population down even more, but only if we work together.

Contact Fiona by email or phone 021 076 3157.

For more information, see the Predator Resources page on our website.

Take part in the 2018 Chew Card Volunteer survey

The 2nd annual Chew Card Volunteer Survey is happening next month. Sign up here and come along to one of the two volunteer muster events on July 7th and 18th. The survey will take place in reserves between July 20-27.

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