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New role sets trap for pesky rats

A new community engagement coordinator for Predator Free Masterton wants as many people as possible involved in targeting the “ambitious, beautiful vision of predator-free 2050”.

Funding boosts from the Nikau Foundation, Predator Free NZ Trust, Masterton Trust Lands Trust, the Wairarapa Building Society, and Masterton District Council have allowed the creation of a coordinator role in Masterton’s predator-free campaign, and appointee Niki Jones has big plans.

Until now, urban spaces have tended to sit on the sidelines in the predator-free discussion, and Jones wants to encourage townies to get trapping.

“We had decisions to make. Should we put out chew cards to work out what pests are there? But I think we’re better off getting people trapping right away and seeing if we can make a difference,” he said.

This will help establish how urban areas fit into a larger plan regarding the protection of New Zealand’s native and endemic biodiversity.

Jones said coverage in the Times-Age had seen people get in touch to discuss how best to approach pest eradication in Masterton.

“We’ve decided on targeting rats and will have free traps to give away when people register,” Jones said.

“We want to get as many of our traps into the community as we can, and for people to record all of their catches.”

Jones said he is working on having registered Victor traps available for “whoever wants one” in urban Masterton.

The Times-Age reported in May about a seasonal influx of rodent activity in Masterton, with local eradicators observing an increase in vermin reports.

Conquest Pest Management director Shane Todd said he is also focused on the predator-free goal.

“I’m taking that seriously in my business, it’s going to be a huge effort if it happens. At an urban pest management level, it will take a lot.”

Predator Free NZ Trust states that “in urban environments where conditions are favourable, rats may reproduce year round and have as many as five litters per year”.

Noting the warmer weather, Todd said at this time of year it is common for rats to become more active outdoors as springtime fruit begins to ripen.

Todd Jenkinson, chair of the environmental networking group Wairarapa Pukaha to Kawakawa [WaiP2K], said he is chuffed with how things in the predator-free space are progressing.

“It’s great, we’re finally starting to find some momentum after having this vision and dream for so long.”

Jenkinson said he wants to see the community continue to embrace the movement and figure out how the region’s different groups can support each other.

“We can all support each other, while not losing that local feel. There’s got to be autonomy in the region for each group.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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