August 2016 – Stoat busters

The nesting birds in the Aongatete forest are easy prey for stoats. But trapping stoats is difficult because they are smart animals, so we need to be smart too. That is why we are trying out a new plan involving two kill traps in a double-ended box.

Ferret in single ended DOC 250

Barry enlisted the help of the Katikati Men’s Shed to build eight boxes. It involved cutting out the wood and assembling the boxes according to a design from the Department of Conservation. Ron Boggis from the Men’s Shed said the men enjoyed helping out, particularly as it was for conservation. The boxes they made are hefty affairs and built to last. Ron said the men wondered how they would be carried deep into the forest!

It was indeed a big task but, helped by a quad bike across the paddocks and then brute strength, the boxes have been set up amongst the 65 stoat traps in the ‘ring of steel’ protecting the nesting birds in the pest-controlled forest area.

Why have double-ended stoat boxes? It is all about stoat psychology. Stoats are very curious and often they travel in pairs. If they hear a noise or catch a scent, they will investigate. If that scent is a dead rat, caught in one of the kill traps, the stoat may nose into the other trap and SNAP! – the stoat is dead too. Or maybe one stoat is killed by a trap and the other stoat goes into the other end to investigate – and SNAP again.

We need more stoat busters to check and re-bait the stoat boxes. If you would like to spend three to four hours walking in the forest every fortnight every two to four weeks, get in touch with Barbara on 021 2385 195. You would be shown how to operate the traps, keep safe in the bush and you would initially be accompanied by an experienced volunteer.

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