Gillian Keegan is passionate about nature and birds – so much so she’s been known to give rat traps as gifts!
Last October Gillian and her husband Bernie volunteered to maintain the trap network in New Plymouth’s Rotokare/Barrett Domain, which borders their home.
There are two traplines in the domain with a combined 67 traps, which the couple check once a week. It takes about four hours in total, but according to Gillian it’s time well spent.
“We thoroughly enjoy it. We’re down there anyway walking the dog, so it’s easy,” she says. “It’s my passion, I enjoy helping nature.”
They get huge satisfaction from catching introduced predators, which are mainly rats and mice – with the occasional hedgehog and stoat.
The benefits are clear. Their home is now surrounded by kererū, pīwakawaka and tūī and Gillian says other visitors to the domain often comment on the noticeable increase in birdlife.
In fact, she reckons her friends are probably sick of hearing about it. “I talk about it a lot,” she laughs.
Gillian and Bernie plan to continue looking after the traps as long as they are able and would “absolutely recommend it” to others keen to make a difference to our region’s biodiversity.
If you’re interested in checking traps in a New Plymouth park or reserve, contact NPDC Parks Volunteer Officer Laura George on (06) 759 6060 to see where volunteers are needed. Note many smaller spaces only contain a few traps – so would not require a large time commitment. Full training will be given. If you are elsewhere in Taranaki and would like to help, please contact Towards Predator-Free Taranaki’s Chauncy Ardell on 0800 736 222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.