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Wanted - Backyard trappers in Snells Beach

It is estimated more than 68,000 birds are killed in New Zealand overnight by predators such as rats, weasels, and hedgehogs. Battle for our Birds 2017 underway

We know from research that trapping predators such as rats and mustelids

(weasels, ferrets and stoats) can greatly increase the number of birds that live in our gardens and shoreline. Even urban areas, such as central Wellington and parts of Auckland’s CBD have reported increased birdlife where there are local trapping programmes.

Since November 2021, Snells Shoreline Conservation Community has started a trapping programme, Pest Free Snells, which aims to reduce the rats, and mustelids that threaten our shoreline and land-based birdlife.

Our plan

1. Setting up local traplines

Traplines that use several traps over a geographic area are a good way of protecting certain areas. Pest Free Snells has been building a barrier along the shoreline and into the land area at the northern end of the beach. It has created two traplines with more than 36 traps that run across both Auckland Council and private land.

One line runs from the northern end of the shoreline to Sunburst Avenue boat ramp.

The other, goes around the pond at the bottom of Arabella Lane and up into Brick Bay winery. These two lines are checked every week by a small team of volunteers who remove any catches and re-lure them.

Recently, the volunteer team started

using tree traps, which have been highly successful in trapping ship rats. These predators climb trees to kill birds and eat eggs. Setting tree traps can be a challenge as they are not always easy to access. One solution has been to build rope ladders to help the trappers get to these hard to reach traps safely.

There is a desire to increase the use of traplines in Snells Beach and more volunteers are needed. If you are interested in helping, please contact us.

2. Set up backyard trapping

A second initiative is the creation of a backyard trapping programme. This is where individuals or small groups have traps in their backyards or gardens. These traps are managed by individuals, and they provide the catch data to us so we can add them to our success story.

We also have examples of local streets running a programme where one or two people set and manage several traps on their street. This is a good way of building up a barrier to predators.

Nationally, evidence shows that even the smallest levels of backyard trapping help local birdlife flourish. Eliminating some of the biggest threats to our birdlife really does make a difference.

The Pest Free Snells programme offers anyone living in Snells Beach the opportunity to have a free trap for their backyard.

Our plan is ambitious, in that over the next five years we want to have hundreds of traps spread across our neighbourhood so that we will help birdlife return to Snells Beach.

Our success

Since November 2021, we have 82 traps spread across the eastern side of Snells Beach. To-date we have recorded more than 375 catches of predators across the whole programme, which includes rats, weasels, hedgehogs and mice.

A big success is the increasing number of people trapping in their backyards. Currently, we have 40 traps set in people’s backyards and they have caught 120 predators. This is a great beginning given this programme has only just started.

Currently, it is hard to judge if birdlife is flourishing in our backyards but many people have told us they have seen more birds in our community.

During 2023, we want to double the number of traps and see our number of catches continue to grow.

What you can do

Become a backyard trapper!

Pest Free Snells has more than 100 traps to give away to anyone living in Snells Beach. These are gifted free although if recipients would like to give a small donation/koha we will use this money to buy more traps for others.

The traps are simple to use, effective and safe for children and pets. We suggest they are checked at least once a week and lure/bait can be as simple as peanut butter.

What does it mean to be a backyard trapper?

Once you have a trap we will ask you to use it in your backyard, and:

  • check it regularly to see if you have caught anything

  • change the lure

  • dispose of any predators you catch

  • report your catch to us

You will have a training session at your home on how to use the trap and where best to locate it in your backyard. We explain how to trap safely and the health and safety guidance of trapping. If you catch a predator we ask you to report it online at our webpage or by email.

Pest Free Snells will be there to answer your questions and give advice about best practice. There will also be a regular newsletter and events held that will help you improve your success rate.

You will be part of a community of trappers who have an important role in making our community safer for our native birdlife.

If you are interested in having a trap email Alan and Jan or go to Pest Free Snells and apply for a backyard trap, and we’ll get back in touch.

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