Possum traps set close to walkway

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 10/11/2012

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Two dangerous metal possum traps found near the Estuary Walkway in Invercargill have prompted a warning from the Invercargill City Council amid fears they would injure a person if stepped on.

Simon Field found the traps at the base of trees while trying to photograph a heron nest near the Stead St Wharf end of the walkway on Tuesday.

The metal traps were designed to spring shut around an animal's leg. "It's less than 10 metres from the track," he said. "It would have hurt the dog if she put her foot in it."

Mr Field decided to trip the traps and leave them to be collected. When he returned the next day they had been removed.

He said he supported what the trappers were trying to do, because possums were a pest, but it was not a safe kind of trap to use.

The track was popular with dog walkers and children and the traps could have hurt an unsuspecting person, he said.

Council parks and reserves manager Robin Pagan said the traps should not have been there.

"We don't know where the traps have come from," he said.

A man had been doing pest control near the boardwalk with permission from the council, but was not using the dangerous type of trap Mr Field had found, he said.

It was not a so-called "gin trap", which could maim an animal, but it was not considered safe or appropriate for a public area, Mr Pagan said.

"Gin traps are the old ones which had teeth which would virtually take the leg off. [These traps] hold the leg further up, and hold the animal in place . . . I don't see any bait in it either, so I'm not sure what they are trying to trap."

Possum fur can be valuable. Asked if some people were trying to trap possums commercially in the city, Mr Pagan said it was possible.

"I'm not sure what the fur prices are at present. A few people do trap during winter - it can be helpful to get numbers down. It's in permitted areas only, not general public-type areas."

A search on Thursday found the traps had been removed, he said.

"Anyone trapping anywhere in any reserve has got to have permits to do it. you can't just go trapping without permission."

alex.fensome@stl.co.nz

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