ERAT – Educating Residents About Trapping
The ERAT project is a 3-year rollout of predator trapping across Eastbourne and the Bays—from Point Howard all the way to Burdans Gate, including the foreshore—starting in 2017.
The project is under the auspices of MIRO and in partnership with Hutt City Council (HCC) and local residents. ERAT volunteer project manager, Sally Bain, works with residents to create and run trap lines using a mix of traps (DOC200’s, Victor rat traps in tunnels and Goodnature A24 self-resetting traps) to establish an 80 x 80m grid. The aim of the project is to achieve sustainable predator control within the residential areas of Eastbourne, diminishing pests such as rats, mustelids (stoats and weasels) and hedgehogs, which will in turn help the survival of many of our native species such as lizards and ground-nesting penguins and banded dotterels, who have had to cope with so much habitat destruction and disturbance already. Monitoring is carried out 3 times per year to measure the effectiveness of the project.
The ERAT project has been designed to overcome three main difficulties:
- Dislike of trapping. A lot of people do not wish to interact with rats or the yucky side of trapping. This is being overcome by offering to provide a regular trap clear and re-bait service by a trained neighbourhood trap line operator (a volunteer). In addition, we can provide an indicator arm on many of the traps that alerts the trap owner to the trap having been triggered, so there is no need to even approach the trap.
- Sustaining the effort. Many people start off setting traps with enthusiasm or due to necessity (for fear of damage to property), but the reality is that once the initial population has been controlled, trapping efforts fall away until rats are sighted again or damage reoccurs. This loss of enthusiasm is quite understandable, but for trapping to provide sufficient protection to vulnerable species, traps need to be kept set so that pest populations are always low. ERAT hopes to maintain a high level of effectiveness across the whole trap network by regular (at least monthly) visits by the neighbourhood trap line operator who will maintain the traps and upload catch data to a website so that local hotspots can be identified. They will also alert the property owner of the clearance of pests with notes left in letterboxes. We appreciate that many residents are already trapping or poisoning rats and mice effectively and we are very supportive of this. It would really help the ERAT Project if trap owners would report their catch each month to their local trap line operator. Contact Sally Bain in the first instance. To report Data, we need: Date cleared, address, Trap type-Snap Trap and tunnel set, Doc series trap, A24 (pest sighted) other (please specify).
- Fear for the safety of pets and children. ERAT has been able to appoint a local veterinarian to the project Steering Group. We are working hard to stick to current recommended trapping best practice from Predator Free NZ. We are also working hard to inform ourselves and our trappers on the safest and most humane traps by keeping in contact with National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and asking what they can recommend. This is all so that we achieve humane standards in regard to any animals that we are targeting, after all, it is not their fault that they are here.It is because of human error that we have got into this situation and it is only through human/humane intervention that we can mitigate some of the damage we have caused through the introduction of these mammalian pests to New Zealand.
An initial impetus for urban trapping was the long-term need for the next generation of trappers to, in time, take over from the keen MIRO volunteers who have been maintaining the pest trapping effort in East Harbour Regional Park for nearly 20 years.
Another reason for action is that the urban environment may act as a reservoir for rats when food in the neighbouring forest is in short supply, with the rats quickly re-invading the forest in a beech mast year. While we cannot currently control rat numbers in the forest, eliminating any urban reservoir will be very helpful when we are eventually able to mount a more effective campaign against rats there.
Last but not least, ERAT is about community resilience—the project aims to build good communication between residents and the trap line volunteers (who are also residents) with the aim of creating a community that unites to control pests, protect their homes, family and the natural treasures that exist around us in Eastbourne. We provide the framework and supply the traps at cost or less and the neighbourhood work together to achieve their goal.
ERAT project on Facebook: http://facebook.com/educatingresidentsabouttrapping/
Interested in helping with ERAT? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org