By Genevieve Morley.
Moehau Environment Group (MEG) has had a long-standing history of predator control throughout the northern Coromandel peninsula to Kapanga/Coromandel Town and our focus has been on controlling the presence of predators so our native species can flourish. Last summer, residents began to approach MEG about the stoats they were seeing at the bottom of Coromandel Town, near the river. The stoats were brazen and very comfortable. One local resident had managed to catch one in a live trap, and another witnessed a whole family of stoats swim across the river. Concerningly, this hot spot of stoat activity is close to the town’s sewage disposal plant, where a vibrant range of native bird species congregate, particularly pāteke/ brown teal.
Pāteke are endangered due to a number of factors including; predation from cats, stoats and rats, loss of habitat, declining water quality, wetland drainage and being disturbed during nesting. They are now mostly found in Northland, Great Barrier Island / Coromandel Peninsula, and they are particularly vulnerable to predators as pāteke hide or freeze rather than fly away when frightened. Stoats and rats are predators of nesting birds and their eggs. Stoats are particularly aggressive hunters, they hunt day and night, can eat baby birds and eggs in the nest, and ground-nesting birds are particularly vulnerable. It is estimated that stoats kill two-thirds of all kiwi chicks that hatch. Norway rats are often found around waterways as they are good swimmers and prey on the eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds.
So it is with great delight and pride to announce the new support of Predator Free NZ in MEG’s Pāteke Hot Spot Project, which will help fund the purchase of materials needed to facilitate MEG volunteers and the children from Coromandel Area School to build traps for use in backyards. Already, the traps placed have been catching huge Norway rats. These rats are a direct threat for the newly hatched pāteke chicks we have recently seen at the oxidation ponds.
If you’re interested in trapping in your own backyard, please get in touch with us to discuss the options you could use such as stoat or rat trap boxes that you check yourself or perhaps a self-resetting trap. Predator Free NZ also has information on their website about backyard trapping toolkits. If you would like to get behind this project and sponsor or donate a trap, please get in touch with us. Follow us on Facebook @moehauenvironmentgroup, contact us at email@example.com or make a donation by visiting our website www.meg.org.nz.
Caption: Photo courtesy of Anna Sephton