Volunteer Graeme Pederson laying a trap. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

More rats roaming the Tararuas will be pierced in the skull with an additional 300 A24 self-resetting traps being set up.

The government has announced an $8 million Department of Conservation spend for the 2018-2019 grants round and the Mt Holdsworth Atiwhakatu Trapping Project was granted $50,000.

The trapping area is the 1000 hectares of the Mount Holdsworth section of the Tararua Regional Park.

Holdsworth Restoration Trust leader Nigel Boniface was rapt with the news.

“This means we can increase the traps from 440 to 730 traps.

A rat killed by an A24 self-resetting trap.

“We go up there and dead rats are piled up on top of each other because the trap resets itself.

“This is good but a conundrum as it means there are still loads of rats up there.”

The A24 trap has a tube container and inside is a “nice-smelling” [to a rat] lure.

A rat puts its head up the lower part of the tube to taste the lure, but triggers a wire, which sets off the trap.

A plastic bolt is then driven across the inner part of the trap smashing into the rat’s skull, killing it instantly. The gas cylinder, then resets the trap.

The funding pays for traps but also the lure and gas needed to keep refilling them.

“Rats have a home range of about 50 metres, so we set the manual traps here every 50 metres,” Boniface said.

A 1000 hectares pest-free is needed to restore bird populations to sustainable levels.

“We’ve got a long way to go until the North Island black robin could be released, but this is our goal.

“I reckon, if we keep going, New Zealand could actually get pest free by 2050, which is the aim.”

This Atiwhakatu project surrounds the Donnelly Flat trapping area run by DOC.

Many Wairarapa volunteers go trapping every second Thursday for the Donnelly project, which has been running for 11 years.

“In October we went up every Thursday and got 200 rats and 141 mice.”

Boniface said the group was always looking for volunteers – “fit trampers, hunters, or mountain runners that are happy to be off track and preferably able to use a GPS”.

Email holdsworthrestorationtrust@gmail.com if you are interested.