Vandals target, destroy traps

UNWELCOME GUEST: DOC200 traps protect rare bird species from pests such as rats.
UNWELCOME GUEST: DOC200 traps protect rare bird species from pests such as rats.

Native birds at Te Atatu Peninsula in Auckland are at risk because of vandals.

Traps placed in the wetlands at the Harbourview-Orangihina Reserve to protect the native fernbird and banded rail bird species from pests such as stoats, rats, and weasels have been destroyed and damaged in recent months.

Forest and Bird volunteer Jeremy Painting discovered three traps tampered with in the last month alone.

HUMAN PEST: Forest and Bird volunteer Jeremy Painting says four DOC200 traps have been vandalised this year.
HUMAN PEST: Forest and Bird volunteer Jeremy Painting says four DOC200 traps have been vandalised this year.

Another pest trap was found completely smashed at the beginning of the year.

"The traps are the only active defence and protection the native birds have and by their actions the persons responsible are putting the entire bird populations at risk.

"Damaging the traps could undo two years of the recovery programme," Painting says.

Each trap costs $65.

The Forest & Bird Motu Manawa Restoration Group has a team of volunteers that regularly monitors the area every six weeks as part of its two-year programme to protect the species.

Chairman Michael Coote says the traps have caught hundreds of rats and one stoat showing they are helping to maintain the population.

The traps don't harm the birds, he says.

"These birds are rare and it is quite unusual to have them so close to the city.

"They are ground-nesting so by getting rid of the pests, the eggs and chicks have a better change of survival."

Coote is surprised because the wooden traps are sturdy and screwed shut.

"It's for everyone's benefit the traps are there and they are ratepayers assets."

Auckland Council's volunteer and biodiversity co-ordinator Huw Hill-Male says the only action that can be taken is to replace and move the more than 20 traps into different positions throughout the wetlands.

Western Leader