Towards Predator-Free Taranaki is working with landowners on a 10-year plan to control introduced mustelids (stoats, ferrets and weasels) across 240,000ha of private land on the Taranaki ring plain.
Building on the Taranaki Regional Council’s successful self-help possum programme, the latest trapping techniques and technologies are being used to remove mustelids and help restore the region's native wildlife and plants.
The roll-out of the programme is taking place in stages and started in 2018/19 with the rural Waiwhakaiho catchment, between New Plymouth and Mt Taranaki.
Contractors carry out the initial control with a target of reducing mustelids numbers by 90%. They place traps along a combination of habitat, races and farm tracks, with a variety of traps to target mustelids. They ensure correct trap placement and density and connect devices to a wireless network and app. After several months working together, landowners are asked to purchase and maintain the traps on their property. The traps are significantly subsidised.
Establishing a network of traps on private land around the border of the national park was the major target for Year 2 of the project. And, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 lockdown, it was completed on target.
In Year 3 the project expanded to the area from Okato around to Rahotu - from the national park to the coast. As at March 2021 there were more than 6,400 traps covering 75,000ha. More than 1100 landowners had signed up to the programme.
Year 4 gets under way in the second half of 2021, continuing around the maunga.
The great news? The region is already starting to see results. A recent study found a 90% reduction in mustelids in areas targeted by trapping. Read more here.
The latest in new trapping technology makes trapping more efficient, helping expand predator control. It includes ‘econodes’ (remote trap sensors), wireless nodes that send catch notifications to devices, and the trapping app, Trap.NZ.
This programme will reduce predator numbers and have a significant impact on improving native biodiversity values. It will also inform the future direction of large-scale predator control projects across the country.
We recognise that none of that would be possible without the support of Taranaki landowners. We are here to help - please do not hesitate to contact your contractor or the Towards Predator-Free Taranaki team at the Taranaki Regional Council if you have any questions or problems.
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.