Becky Dodunski is on a mission to help “bring nature back” to Eltham.
A couple of years ago the community support officer and mum became concerned about introduced predators in the town. With Eltham sitting halfway between Mt Taranaki and Rotokare Scenic Reserve(external link), she was determined to stop predators in their tracks.
Since then she’s set up a total of 14 traps in Soldiers Memorial Park, Taumata Park, Connell Reserve and Bridger Park, which she single-handedly maintains.
It takes about 2.5 hours to check them all and until recently she was doing it weekly. She’s just cut back to every two to three weeks, as the catch rate has dropped.
Becky hopes that’s a sign the traps are starting to make an impact on predator numbers in the town.
“Hopefully it’s helping.”
Asked why she does it, the answer is simple: “They are not supposed to be here.”
“I don’t like killing things but it’s just one of those things that we have to do,” she says. “If either natives or predators have to die I would rather it was predators.”
She admits that on a cold, rainy day it can be harder to get out and check traps.
“But then I see a fantail fly by and remember that’s why I am doing it.”
A kererū living year round near her home also provides inspiration.
Becky’s commitment to the environment doesn’t end at predator control; she’s also working with organisations such as the Eltham Community Development Group to plant more trees in the town and remove invasive weeds – among other things.
“I’m quite excited to help bring nature back.”
If you live in Eltham and would like to help restore the area’s native biodiversity, contact Becky through Restore Eltham(external link). Alternatively contact Chauncy Ardell at Towards Predator-Free Taranaki on 0800 736 222 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also buy a $10 rat trap pack for your backyard from Ngaere School(external link), with all proceeds going towards its environmental projects.
Towards Predator-Free Taranaki is always looking for volunteers to help check traps and drive community efforts across the region. Contact Chauncy for more information.
A kereru in Becky's backyard: