Wellington has declared war on predators. Wellingtonians are now trapping in their backyards in record numbers. The success of the backyard trapping programme has prompted the Morgan Foundation, Wellington City Council and Department of Conservation to step up their funding, to help more people join the fight. Wellington is now eyeing up the possibility of being the first predator free city in the world.
The Enhancing the Halo initiative that began over a year ago has now over 1300 households signed up to make their backyards a safe haven for native species. The most successful part of this has been helping households trap in their backyards. Over 350 households have started targeting rats, stoats and hedgehogs by purchasing a discounted trap available through the Halo.org.nz website.
Wellingtonians can sign up to be Halo Households and then purchase traps at reduced rates, thanks to the buying power of DOC and subsidies from the Morgan Foundation and the Wellington City Council.
Such is the success of the programme that the partners are redoubling their efforts to get more people trapping. Through the Our Living City Fund, Wellington City Council has granted $5,000 for traps, which will be matched by the Morgan Foundation. The Department of Conservation also contributes to the fund that provides cheap, safe traps for Wellingtonians.
In order to cope for the demand for traps, the Morgan Foundation have decided to move the trap pick up into their central Wellington office near Waitangi Park. After buying their trap online, people can pick it up anytime during weekday business hours. The Morgan Foundation team will be on hand to give them a quick “how-to” lesson. All details for pick up will be available once people have made a purchase.
The Enhancing the Halo coordinator Nick Tansley commented:
I have been amazed by the take up of trapping. People seem to really get into it once they try it, there is something primal about it. People understand that this really is a war we are fighting here against predators – a war to save our native species. I trapped a rat the other day myself – a big one – and I danced a jig. It had been taunting me for months.
In recent months The Morgan Foundation has also sponsored two pilot programmes in the Wellington suburbs of Crofton Downs and Glenside. They have been given a $5000 trapping grant each in a race to become New Zealand’s first Pest Free Community. The hope is that these two projects will show the way for other communities to emulate.
Over time the plan is to join up the trapping efforts of private citizens, voluntary groups and the Council in its parks, and make Wellington a predator free city. It may not be possible to get rid of all predators, but numbers could be reduced to levels that are safe for native birds to feed and breed outside current havens like Zealandia. That would be a feat worthy of the title “The Natural Capital”.
Partners are even getting kids in on the game. Karori West School is about to engage their students in a Morgan Foundation competition called the Rat Race where every rat caught is worth $5 to the school. As part of their homework the kids use chew cards to find out where the rats are, then their parents put the trap there. Zealandia, the Zoo and Wellington City Council are also working with schools to get kids understanding importance of making our back yards into safe havens for native wildlife.
“We get an amazing response when we go into schools,” says Gareth Morgan, “even my grandkids are into it. They know that to save our native birds, we need to trap rats.”