Traps set at Hatfields Beach

Colin Christie with trainee pest detection dogs Bindy and Pipi.

Traps were placed around Hatfields Beach last month to help rid the area of rats, mustelids (stoats and weasels) and possums.

Hatfields resident Colin Christie decided to set and check a trap line to support the pest control work that Hibiscus Coast Forest & Bird is doing elsewhere on the Coast.

He says Hatfields is ideal territory for rats, with freedom camping activities, a public reserve and rubbish bins near the beach all providing a potential rodent food source.

“In fact, while I was in the reserve talking with Pauline Smith from Forest and Bird about the trap line, a rat swam past up the creek,” he says.

In late February, Colin set 26 snap traps, which target rats, as well as two DOC 200s and two Timms traps, for possums.

The traps, provided by Hibiscus Coast Forest and Bird, were placed around the perimeter of Hatfields Beach Reserve, up to the bridge and on the grass by the beach.

They are not accessible for non-target species, such as domestic animals and are baited with peanut butter and a synthetic bait that Hibiscus Coast Forest and Bird is trialling – this consists of plastic blocks impregnated with the aroma of meat or fish that can last up to 12 months.

In his role as pest detection dog handler for DOC, Colin will also use dead rats taken from the traps to train rescue dog Bindy to find rodents. He is training his other dog, Pipi, to detect mustilids.

Colin is regularly monitoring the trap line, recording what is caught, replacing bait and making any adjustments needed. The information goes on Forest & Bird’s database.

He says he wants his whole family to get involved in the work. “Everyone has to do their bit if we are to have a predator free New Zealand,” Colin says. “If we all put traps out at home and at work it would really make a difference to our wildlife.”


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