The Enhancing the Halo project aims to make Wellington New Zealand’s natural capital. As part of this, there will be a number of surveys of the predators that roam in the backyards of Wellingtonians.
The intention is to bring to the public’s attention just how much decimation of the native wildlife is occurring right on our doorstep. We either need to take action if we’re serious about environmental protection and enhancement, or accept that our efforts to bring back native birds and lizards is futile thanks to our lack of willingness to deal with introduced predators.
We will be using chew cards to survey the presence of predators including mice, rats, possums and stoats on urban properties. However, chew cards don’t tell us anything about the presence of cats. As a result Gareth Morgan is sponsoring motion-triggered infra-red cameras that will allow people to record how many wandering predators frequent their property over a two-week period. This is supplemented by the use of humane live catch cat cages which allow us to identify the animal as companion or stray and release them.
From our tests so far we know that the most prolific predator in urban Wellington is the domestic cat. Most of these wear no identification or even a bell, but they have right of passage to kill at will. Most people will be shocked to see the number of cats that trespass on their properties each day, defecating and hunting wildlife. There’s a very good reason we don’t have wildlife in our urban areas, they’re being hunted to local extinction and domestic cats are a major cause.