Every weekend Oakura pair Clive Saleman and Libby Baker head out, armed with a jar of peanut butter.
On Saturdays they check and maintain seven stoat traps and 12 rat traps along the walkway in Oakura.
“We check weekly and we find that most of the peanut butter bait is gone, even when nothing is caught,” Saleman says.
“It’s important to keep checking and re-baiting, as with no bait the traps are not going to catch anything.”
Their peanut butter adventures have caught 25 rats and 11 mice in the last few months, and they are hoping the area will one day be predator-free.
They’ve seen first-hand what a predator-free environment looks like.
They visited Ulva Island off Stewart Island to experience the abundant birdlife in 2016.
“The forest floor was covered in seedlings and there were birds everywhere,” Saleman says.
“Wood pigeons and New Zealand robins were happily feeding on the path around our feet. Saddlebacks hopped and flitted nearby, and countless bellbirds, kākā and tui were singing all around.
“And what helped get it to this state were the networks of traps everywhere on the island, all maintained by volunteers for years. Now they are down to catching one rat per year.”
Since this trip, the pair has visited Tiritiri Matangi in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and Taranaki’s own Lake Rotokare. Baker has also spent a night on Kapiti Island off the Wellington coast.
“I loved sleeping in a tent listening to the noises of the nocturnal bird life,” she says.
With the start of Towards Predator-Free Taranaki and then the active local Restore Oakura group, the pair knew they wanted to get involved to help bring predator numbers down in their own community.
And when they are out with their jars of peanut butter people often stop and ask them how the project going, Saleman says.
“They are really interested, a lot already have traps and others ask how they can get them.
“When we get home Libby logs the catch onto the trap.nz website.”
Towards Predator-Free Taranaki project manager Toby Shanley says their great work is making a positive impact.
Since the pair began checking traps along the walkway between the Surf Club and Whenuariki Stream by Ahu Ahu Beach, they’ve caught 25 rats and 11 mice.
“They are our local heroes and it is a positive step for our native flora and fauna,” Shanley says.
- If you would you like traps for your backyard, or to look after a part of a reserve or walkway you can find out more on the TRC website.