Rats know no boundaries, but the rats running around the picnic area at Pt England Reserve on a recent Saturday morning might be in for a rude awakening! They were in full view and bold as brass streaking across the grass just a few meters from the Songbird trailer, where local residents were picking up rodent traps.
The trap handout was the second EBSP has done in collaboration with a new predator-control group, Wai-o-Taiki Nature Reserve Rangers, who are spear-heading the effort to get rid of rodents in Glen Innes, Wai-o-Taiki Bay and Pt England — suburbs located in Tāmaki-Maungakiekie, just across the boundary from Ōrākei Local Board’s area.
Thirty-eight safe, enclosed rodent traps have been issued at Pt England Reserve on two Saturday mornings — 16 on March 5 and 22 on March 19. This expanded effort is being supported by the two local boards in recognition of the high ecological value of the Tāmaki River and surrounding reserves, as well as haloing trapping work already being done in the area by kindred groups and individuals.
David Doleman, one of the founders of Wai-o-Taiki Rangers, was responsible for leafleting the relevant streets near Pt England Reserve. He said it was easy: “I just approached a few dog walker friends, gave each of them a bundle of leaflets and a list of streets, and it was done.”
We saw lots of dogs being walked or attending obedience classes on the reserve, but none would have been a match for what one local resident called “the rat club”. She and her husband have lived near the reserve for seven years, take a daily walk, and always encounter rats. “With this year’s long, hot summer the problem has been even worse than usual,” she said. “Some of the rats are huge.”
Some people throw leftover food out of their parked cars, or leave scraps around picnic tables, the resident said. The council had supplied bins, “but these need to be bigger and more secure. One pizza box can block the bin.” She did not hold out much hope of all park visitors taking their leftovers home with them.
The Songbird Project group hopes that with public education and the increasing uptake of rodent traps by residents who care about protecting native birds and enjoying beautiful reserves like Pt England, our combined efforts will put a big dent in rodent numbers. There will be more trap handouts at Pt England and other strategic spots in the “borderlands” over coming months, in addition to ongoing handouts in the OLB area. Look out for the Songbird trailer near your place on a Saturday morning soon.
Story and pix by Jan Power
Above photo: David Doleman issues a safe (enclosed) rodent trap to Wai-o-Taiki Bay resident Louise Miles.