Wildlife festival highlights pest problems

The ' E Raticators", Helen Crook and Peter Hobson
The ' E Raticators", Helen Crook and Peter Hobson


What: Picton Pestival

When: 11am to 6pm on Saturday, March 22

Possums for pints: Kaipupu Point Mainland Island Society secretary Jo O'Conner supports the Pestival's planned fur trade of a pint for a possum tail
Possums for pints: Kaipupu Point Mainland Island Society secretary Jo O'Conner supports the Pestival's planned fur trade of a pint for a possum tail

Where: Waitohi Domain, Dublin St, Picton

Tickets: Non-members $10, children entry by gold coin donation, Kaipupu Point members free. Kaipupu Point membership is $20 for individuals and $30 for a family. 

The Picton Pestival returns today to raise funds for Kaipupu Point Wildlife Sanctuary.

The festival was held for the first time last year and is now part of the region's annual summer calendar of events.

Ongoing funds are needed to help with pest monitoring efforts at the sanctuary to reach the goal of making it predator free.

The most serious imminent issue facing forests in the South Island is the predicted Beech Mast - an event that occurs only once in every 10 to 15 years and sees a huge increase in the numbers of rats, mice and stoats.

This autumn, beech trees around New Zealand are likely to produce a million tonnes of beech seed, subsequently boosting the pest populations tenfold.

Once the seed runs out they will turn on our native birds.

There will always be intense pressure on the sanctuary from the outside, with pests wanting to get in and sample the smorgasbord of birds inside that they can hear and smell.

And the population explosion will only add to this pressure.

Minister of Conservation, Nick Smith, says that the rat population in our forests is expected to explode by about 30 million by spring.

With rats, stoats and possums responsible for the killing of 25 million native birds per year, the expected impact is unfathomable in its enormity.

The Picton Pestival is about raising awareness of this important issue, while celebrating the return of native birds and flora to Kaipupu Point in a festive atmosphere. There'll be plenty of prizes and entertainment for the kids, with Natasha Luxton of Conservation Kids New Zealand heading up the kids zone with arts, crafts and a bouncy castle.

Marlborough District Council senior environmental scientist Peter Hamill is organising a host of expert conservation speakers, while Kaipupu Point co-ordinator Jenny Keene will be creating a conservation zone, with plenty of interesting information on which birds and other native wildlife we can expect to thrive in a predator-free environment.

There will be some great entertainment too with alternative-country band Shot Band from Wellington, and Blenheim Kiwi-reggae group Onestep performing.

Picton's Midge McLeary and Blenheim jazz pianist/singer Lee Stuart, who won last year's Marlborough Smokefree Rockfest, will also be amongst the lineup.

There'll be a wide range of wild and tame food on offer from Bread of Life, Quest Catering, Gourmet Deli, Col's Baked Potatoes and Mr Whippy.

New sponsors Mud House Wines will be there as well as a cash bar with beer available. A guaranteed fun day out for young and old.

For more information on becoming a member of Kaipupu Point, go to kaipupupoint.