Cat comments put spotlight on Waitakeres

CIARA PRATT
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
Samantha Redmond
CIARA PRATT
FIGHTING PESTS: Samantha Redmond is taking part in community pest control to protect native bird species.

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Protecting native bird species in the Waitakere Ranges is under the spotlight after comments by an economist on predator control.

Economist Gareth Morgan spoke publicly last week on the need to get rid of cats in order to protect New Zealand's native bird species.

He blamed the feline population for rapidly killing off a number of native birds and made a call for owners to think about not replacing their cats.

The Ark in the Park project in the Waitakere Ranges is home to a number of native bird species that rely heavily on the controlling of predators to survive.

The open sanctuary is surrounded by an 800 hectare buffer zone, most of which is private property, where neighbours are encouraged to use traps to help with pest control.

Traps and poison are provided by Forest & Bird at no charge.

Samantha Redmond and her husband live in the buffer zone that surrounds Ark in the Park.

They have decided to take part in pest control to help protect native birds and to also protect their own land from predators such as rats.

"We've put a nooski trap in the garden to try and trap rats but we will be getting more traps from Forest & Bird in a few weeks.

"Pests are a problem for us as well. They eat the chicken feed and I don't want rats around when I've got small children playing outside."

Forest & Bird North Island conservation manager Dr Mark Bellingham says Ark in the Park relies heavily on the goodwill of neighbours to take part in pest control.

"Of the neighbours we started with, about three-quarters of them are still involved in pest control and the 25 per cent who aren't, are the ones who have just moved into the area.

"The methods we use are live-trapping and poison and the residents use the same," he says.

He says that cats are a predator of the native birds in the ark.

"Some people control cats on their places as well. Most of the people we work with try to contain their cats but we have had significant problems with our North Island robins because neighbours' cats were coming into the park and eating them.

"The cats were pretty much wiping out our robin population so we started trapping cats and we went round to all the neighbours and offered free neutering for their animals."

Waitakere Local Board member Greg Presland has weighed in on the issue discussing the killing habits of his own cat, Doris, on the futurewest. org blog online.

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"We live in a subtropical rainforest that I care deeply about and have spent much time working to protect. My cat is killing birdlife.

"After his eventual demise I think it best that he is not replaced."

- Western Leader

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