Kaitake residents are leading the country by supporting an eradication project restoring local biodiversity.
It’s the first time on mainland New Zealand that eradication of possums has been tried on urban, rural and conversation land.
Restore Kaitake is a joint effort between Towards Predator-Free Taranaki and Taranaki Mounga Project, as well as local landowners, residents and conservation groups.
Launched in 2018, it was a New Zealand-first as it set out not to simply control possum numbers but to eradicate them from a 4,500 hectare area including 2,300 hectares of the Kaitake Range, 2,000 hectares of Kaitake farmland and Oākura town.
With rivers acting as natural barriers on either side of this “zero possum” zone, the main highway for possums to enter is through a strip of forest at Pukeiti. There we have set up a “virtual barrier” to stop incursions. Remote reporting traps have been placed every 10m in four lines – using a total of 1300 traps.
Other tools and technologies we’ve used include cameras, possum detection dogs, thermal imaging monoculars and a “lean detection network” of about 180 traps within the Kaitake Range itself.
Two years on and we are extremely close to the zero possum target. Read project manager Toby Shanley's latest update here.
The Kaitake and Oākura community won a 2019 Taranaki Environmental Award for Environmental Action in the Community, highlighting residents’ outstanding efforts to control predators and restore native biodiversity by working together.
Seen or heard a possum in the Oākura-Kaitake area?
We want to know! Please report it by calling 0800 736 222 or go to www.trc.govt.nz/possum.
If you’re trapping at home, register with the online database Trap.NZ, via its website or app. Then record all your catches and also your trap checks (even when nothing has been caught). This makes Trap.NZ a source of valuable data tracking the region’s efforts and identifying gaps.