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Protect, enhance and educate are our three core values at Matuku Link. And the “protection” bit is done by trapping and baiting. We’ve got a great dedicated team of trappers who check “their” traps every two weeks to reset, clean and refill them with a piece of salted rabbit meat for smell and an egg as a visual lure. This is mainly to catch stoats, but has useful by-catch like rats and hedgehogs.

Our baiting team refills the 295 bait stations (white plastic boxes made from recycled milk bottles, so called “PhilProof Mini”) on Matuku Link and adjacent Matuku Reserve every season, to get rid of rats and possums. Every baiter has its own lines: a grid system where lines are 100 metres apart and have a bait station every 50 metres. They are all north-south oriented, doesn’t matter if there is a cliff face, river or steep incline in the way! Some of our lines are easy and a lovely walk, others are much more challenging (one has a 60 meter rope!) but also more rewarding… we hope…

But how do we know we’re achieving anything? Are our efforts actually protecting our birds and our bush? We record the bait uptake (how much has been eaten) and volunteer Stefan turns them into heat maps to give a good overview. Red means fully eaten, green means not eaten at all.

Knowing how many rats are left is more important than knowing how many rats you’ve killed… and thanks to Auckland Zoo staff, lead by Sian Buley, we know that as well: they check the footprints on tracking tunnels after our baiting rounds. We’re still ‘tracking’ downwards, which is the encouraging!

All of our efforts have been helped enormously by the by-weekly trapping at Habitat te Henga, done by Forest & Bird contractor Matt Mannington for the past 7 years – also partly funded by Auckland Zoo and Auckland Council. Private residents along the wetland do their bit as well, caring for the birds, by baiting and trapping.

A very worthwhile group effort! If you’d like to become involved, contact me.

Annalilymatukulink@gmail.com or 0212207136