This report covers April and May 2024. Key points:

  • Over April, Pete Mitchell led a series of training/refreshers for our rangers and volunteers.
  • Over two days in late May, rangers and volunteers completed the rodent tracking tunnel survey.
  • At the Grey-faced-petrel/Ōi burrows, signs of the birds prospecting their burrows for this season's breeding season were observed. Feathers were collected to use as a lure in the traps near the burrow sites.
  • Over two days in May, a handful of groups came together to remove as many moth plant pods as possible — approximately 50 black bags were filled.
  • We have come into this winter with around 7000 seedlings, all of which were sourced and nurtured locally by the community. The trust will be hosting a community planting day at Home Bay on June 16th — the site will be an extension from last year’s.

Predator Control

Toxin has not been re-introduced to bait stations yet. We pulled everything out by the end of February in the hope that our rodent populations will increase in the lead up to the 1080 operation. Over April, former head ranger turned super volunteer, Pete Mitchell, led a series of training/refreshers for our rangers and volunteers. He has got us all refocused on key techniques in track maintenance, toxin application and trapping. Since then we have had volunteers out maintaining their own lines and keeping bait stations attractive with the application of peanut butter. It’s the small details that help with successful operations. Thanks, Pete, for all your help!

We are planning to apply non-toxic pre-feed pellets to bait stations in late June/early July to get rodents actively feeding out of bait stations. Once pre-feed is being rapidly eaten reserve wide, we can switch it out for toxic 1080 pellets. If this all goes to plan, we should see great results in our control of rodents and mustelids. Exciting times!

Maintenance of our toxin lines has continued throughout the year. Since the cyclone, the forest has become less resilient to excessive rain and wind. Each small event has caused damage to lines.

Rodent Tracking Tunnel Survey

Over two days in late May, rangers (Tom FP, Tom G and Kees) and volunteers (Grant Stevens and Tony Climie) completed a rodent tracking tunnel survey. We have 15 lines containing 10 tunnels each spread out across the reserve. Each person listed above took care of a handful of lines each. To track rodents, we insert cards into tunnels and bait with peanut butter. The middle of the card has a layer of black ink that animals step on to leave a footprint (see photo below). A percentage of individual cards tracked gives you an index of each animal's population.

Results from this survey were 20% rats and 53% mice. These are considered to be moderate to high numbers. This is a big jump up since December 2023 when we recorded 3% rats and 1% mice. It is quite obvious that if you stop using toxin for a few months, your rodent population can bounce back very quickly. We are not worried, however, since we need these kinds of numbers for 1080 to be effective.

New Ranger!

Sending out a big welcome to our newest BHCT ranger, Marije! Marije has been a huge help with some new work we have taken on. She now services all of Predator Free Whangarei’s leg holds on Te Whara as part of a new contract, along with a bunch of other traps and cameras. It’s been awesome to watch her pick up her role so quickly. We are all very impressed.

Marije has a very broad range of skills and experiences, but has come to us, most recently, with a marine science background. At the moment she works two days with us whilst studying for her master’s degree in marine studies.

Recent Ranger Reports