The three aims of Matuku Link are protect, enhance and educate. The first protection part is all about pest animal and pest plant control. Pest animals we focus on are rats, possums and stoats as the main predators, with hedgehogs, feral cats, ferrets and weasels as the occasional extra. We use the best practice technique of a gridline of bait stations (100 x 50 metres) with toxic bait, and several circuits of trap lines with DOC200 traps. Some additional GoodNature A24 and A12 traps fill in gaps where it is hard to get to.
But how we you know we’re actually doing a good job? By monitoring in several ways:
- Bait uptake monitoring: every volunteer doing a bait run records how much bait has been eaten. This gives us a good indication what hot spots for rats are, especially visually on a video like below. It’s a bit like the rain radar! The red dots is where all the rat bait has been taken, while at the green dots none was eaten. We are aiming to extend the green “safe” area. See the video here. Video and maps made by Stefan Marks.
- Recording catches: our volunteer trappers record what they catch.
- Tracking tunnels: Auckland Zoo has been carrying out our monitoring for the past years with three lines of tracking tunnels: a black plastic tunnel with an pre-inked piece of cardboard in it with some irresistible peanut butter in the middle. Any animal walking through the tunnel will leave its footprints. The prints we like to find are of weta, geckos and lizards, the ones we don’t like are from possums, rats and mice.
- Camera monitoring: one of our volunteers deploys motion triggered cameras to capture what is out there when we’re not watching – birds and pests alike
- Bird monitoring: twice a year we do our Puweto (spotless crake) survey with volunteers supported by Auckland Zoo. At pre-determined listening posts around the wetland we wait, play the sound of a puweto, then listen if it calls back to us.
- Specialized wetland monitoring by SoundCounts, a professional company which places recorders around our Te Henga wetland, then analyses and reports on the results. This happens every second year, depending on funding.
- Incidental monitoring – for instance last month the biologists from Boffa Miskell were looking for a place to test their new predator lure. They placed chew cards out along two lines at Matuku Link to see if we would be a good test site. Turns out we didn’t qualify, because our predator numbers are too low!
And lastly we know we’re doing quite well if we hear from neighbours that they are seeing more birds… or even pateke in their pond!
Contact me if you’re interested in joining any of these activities to protect and monitor our wildlife – best, Annalily