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GWRC predator patrols get ‘back out in the field’

Some regional predator trapping has returned under Level 3. PHOTO/FILE

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Some pest control operations in Wairarapa have resumed under Alert Level 3, but volunteer trappers are still awaiting a green light to continue protecting birdlife.

Greater Wellington Regional Council has resumed pest control operations that can be conducted safely under Alert Level 3.

“To adhere to Level 3 rules, some of GWRC’s operations will be reduced, such as our ability to provide certain types of training and on-site advice, due to distancing requirements,” a spokesperson said.

“To reduce risk of transmission, GWRC is prioritising sites that require less contact.

“Sites that require encounters with more people will be picked up again under Level 2, where suitable.”

Greater Wellington biosecurity pest animals team leader Glen Falconer said, “it’s important we maintain all the hard work done to date to control pest animals and protect our native species.

“However, our primary focus is ensuring our staff are protected by adhering to all safety requirements.”

Nigel Boniface runs volunteer-led trapping around Mt Holdsworth, which is unaffiliated with GWRC.

They target rats, mice, possums and stoats that damage the birdlife population.

The team was unable to go out during Alert Level 4, and he said the situation was much the same for Alert Level 3.

Under Alert Level 2, they may be allowed to go out again, provided the Department of Conservation gives them the go-ahead.

“Trapping is still off the cards,” Boniface said.

“We’ve been told we’ll be ‘reassessed’ at Level 2, but even then, it’s not guaranteed.”

Predator Free Martinborough was started by the South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group just over a year ago.

It focuses on independent predator controls in and around the Martinborough area, Jane Lenting, head of SWBG said.

“I haven’t contacted people during the lockdown.

“But as we come out, I’ll be contacting people again, asking how their trapping is going.

“I ask them for their trapping records, and that way we can then put it on the national database, so it becomes part of Predator Free New Zealand.

“I had about four months on our place without a single rat, and now I’ve just started getting them again.

“The message is, if you are trapping on your property, keep re-baiting and keep moving and resetting your traps once a week.”

Predator Free Martinborough also organises several community trapping events and initiatives, with the aid of SWBG and the Department of Conservation.

These events, which educate people on the importance of trapping and wildlife conservation, have also been on hold during the lockdown.

The group also operates a public trap library, where traps can be picked up and swapped – this has also been halted.

With the lockdown set to ease off, and rats beginning to breed more frequently, Lenting said she was “keen to get back into organising more community things and publicising the trap library a little more widely”.

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