Wellington Scoop

Taking pest control into their own hands


by Gregor Thompson
An estimated 25 million native birds are killed by pests, rodents and domestic pets annually, an astonishing statistic if you consider the already limited populations. Seatoun boys Tait Burge, Hugo Reeve and Claude Ramsden Bradley have been concerned with the depleting populations of native birds for some time so have set up a self-funded project to help.

Traplordz – a name marketed to the university students and younger generations – is an initiative they have set up to revitalise the culture surrounding conservation in the Wellington Region.

Traplordz offer free “Trappacks” for people to record their trapping results that are then used to develop statistics and aid other conservationists. Prizes are awarded every week for consistent information and regular contribution to the cause. This gives the participants a competitive incentive and rewards them for their efforts.

“I guess the idea came about when we realised that we knew there was a problem, but none of our mates or anyone we knew of our age was doing anything about it” says Hugo.

The idea is a much needed new angle that entices younger generations to help Wellington reach its Predator Free goal.

Each Trappack comes with a personalized painted trapbox by a Wellington artist, a modified victor trap, Pic’s peanut butter for luring the animals, information pamphlets and some stickers. Everything you need to get started. Pic’s peanut butter is the team’s first sponsor. The new group is working alongside Predator Free Wellington who are supplying the traps and are delighted with the boys commitment so far. The rest of the equipment and time is donated generously by Tait, Hugo and Claude.

“We are really pleased to be able to support Traplordz in their work. This really is about Wellingtonians stepping up to define the type of city they want to live in. Engaging new and diverse audiences in the collective vision is absolutely fantastic” says James Willcocks, Project Director of Predator Free Wellington. “We are absolutely stoked with Predator Free Wellingtons help and the fact Pic’s has sponsored us! We are always looking for more sponsors and people who can help us do our bit” says Tait.

The Traplordz have been hard at work of recent times going door to door, delivering their trappacks and signing Wellingtonians up, as well as spreading the word and educating people about predators and the falling Native bird populations.

There have been over 30 traps delivered within the first month of the project with Victoria University PHD students offering to assess the information they gather and provide statistical analysis that may help the process.

“Yeah, it’s been pretty hectic these last few weeks getting everything sorted out. It’s all falling into place well and we are just stoked we can help to solve an issue that’s been on our minds for the last few years” says Claude.

The Traplordz all currently work full-time in their own respective jobs and earn no financial benefit from the service they are providing the community.

“I think we all see ourselves continuing to play a hand in a Predator Free New Zealand as well as other conservation projects down the line and really hope that other young people will get on board and do their part as well” says Claude. “I would like to move towards permanent work in conservation as time goes on but we’d need funding, so right now it’s all about building the right foundations and proving we can make a difference” says Hugo.

The Traplordz have been asked to appear on TV3’s The Project and have been on Newstalk ZB. What started as three concerned locals wanting to make a difference is turning into a project that will hopefully inspire the younger generations to change their mind about the way they see conservation and help to perpetuate the livelihoods of our Native birds.

If you would like to sign up or help the Traplordz in their quest you can reach them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/traplordznz/


  1. Citizen Joe, 4. July 2018, 22:58

    I see GWRC now want to exterminate the hedgehog! I am extremely annoyed that my money is being spent In this way. This has got to stop.

  2. Barbara S, 5. July 2018, 8:11

    The hedgehog is 100% protected on my property! This is all going far to far! I am disgusted that my rates are being paid to exterminate the hodgehog! I am ashamed to live in this increasingly cruel town!

  3. Neil D, 5. July 2018, 9:46

    How very bizarre that GWRC wants to exterminate the hedgehog when it is endangered in the UK!


    I think we should start up a hedgehog preservation society in NZ.

    Hedgehogs are entitled to their space on planet earth wherever that may be. I will certainly leave them alone on my 20 acre property.

    ‘Leave Hedgehogs Alone’ it shall be!

  4. Anne Batley Burton, 7. July 2018, 11:59

    I am sick of conservationists who are cruelly killing these sentient beings. I am ashamed of the way NZ is going with so many decision makers being brainwashed . Trying to bring NZ back to the way it was before we arrived is futile and killing any introduced species as a “ pest” including cats purely through the lack of a microchip is evil. I love hedgehogs and feed them on our properties . The people responsible for use of 1080 and other poisons are destroying our country and NZ is getting a seriously bad reputation all over the world for cruelty to animals and the psychological impact all this will have on our children and their desensitization to cruelty and killing of sentient beings purely because they are not native.

  5. CC, 7. July 2018, 20:15

    Ever noticed that those who want to reverse the extinctionist history of New Zealand put their time, money and efforts into establishing protective environments for endemic fauna. Meanwhile, those who countenance the unrestrained breeding of vicious, violent, murderous introduced species sit behind their keyboards instead of actively containing their preferred predators behind secure fences.

  6. Farmer John, 7. July 2018, 21:49

    Well said Anne! Leave the hedgehog along and don’t spend my money exterminating it!

  7. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 11. July 2018, 15:01

    In response to CC’s comment, readers may find it of interest that commenter Anne is one of NZ’s leading figures in both Feline welfare and animal advocacy in general. She operates a registered charity and shelter which has rescued countless homeless Cats and yes, the shelter is fenced.

    As to the hedgehogs, the process of demonising them appears to have begun with Forest and Bird as is the case with the demonisation of Cats. Forest and Bird have infiltrated DOC to the point where DOC now act well beyond their mandate by indoctrinating our tamariki and rangatahi to kill for conservation. Forest and Bird have been quite proactive in not only demonising the hedgehogs in general but have also engaged in hands on disruption of hedgehog advocates´ meetings, one instance of this is documented in thIs report from last year.

    It is disturbing to see the fruit of Department of Conservation’s ‘conservation kids’ program growing up and engaging themselves in the nationwide pogrom against introduced species. Now we see groups like Traplordz, SquawkSquad and others making a game of death and enticing those blessed with the spirit of competitiveness by offering prizes which reward those who are the most effective at dispensing death en mass. Pam Crisp operates Nature Through the Arts Collective which in summer runs the Kaia The Kaka game in Wellington’s Central Park, a facebook messenger based mobile phone game intended to indoctrinate the young into engineered environmental mass psychosis.

    Indoctrination of children and youth into killing for conservation is bringing our nation into international disrepute. Professor Marc Bekoff of University of Colorado had this to say about the indoctrination of children as part of NZ’s ‘predator free’ program:

    “It’s well known that violence can cross species lines and it essential to work hard so that violence will not beget violence. Educators and all others who encourage youngsters to kill other animals should be taken to task, for what they are doing is wrong and incredibly inhumane. As someone wrote to me this morning, “They know exactly what they’re doing to perpetuate hate toward other animals.”´(Abridged).

  8. Andy Mellon, 11. July 2018, 21:37

    So, what’s your solution then Sekhmet? How would you preserve our remaining endemic species, or would you not bother to do so?

  9. CC, 11. July 2018, 22:24

    If Anne is doing such a great job, why are feral cats, hedgehogs and all other manner of other cross-species killers still preying on endemic species that are headed to extinction? It is not hate that engenders protective instincts when it comes to creatures that have no other natural home but NZ. Thank heavens for Forest and Bird, community trapping initiatives and conservationists. They are needed to counter the effects of those who demonstrate a hate for native fauna by encouraging the proliferation of introduced exotic exterminators.

  10. TrevorH, 12. July 2018, 8:27

    You are correct Sekhmet Bast Ra, childhood cruelty to animals has been well documented as a predictor of violent criminal behaviour among adults. Doc and Forest and Bird may well be contributing to the development of a generation of adult psychopaths with little respect for life. There are no easy answers when it comes to species protection. It is impossible, and indeed insane, to try to reverse the impact of nearly a thousand years of introduced species including humans. Humans themselves have time and again been proven to be the main cause of species extinction; animals are their scapegoat.

  11. Citizen Joe, 12. July 2018, 13:56

    Hedgehogs are innocent! Leave them alone!

    One of the most miserable prize givings I’ve seen was in an Upper Hutt car park where prizes were given for most possums killed. Some looked liked they’d tortured to death. There are some very cruel humans about in NZ.

  12. Andrew, 12. July 2018, 14:44

    Hang on, everyone who is against pest control is talking as though this is a binary issue. Either eliminate or not at all. I guess we have the ‘Pest Free 2050’ mantra to thank for that. Personally I am for population control of some species where needed rather than elimination. People+Cities=Rats after all… I really do enjoy the explosion of native wildlife around my suburb and the surrounding area.

  13. Josie B., 12. July 2018, 18:37

    Andrew and let’s not forget pigeons in your People + cities equation. Weren’t they referred to as airborne’rats’ by L’Affare’s owner? Seems to me that NZ has ‘little mammal syndrome’ – they all have to be exterminated.

  14. Carolyn, 13. July 2018, 16:14

    I am ashamed to be a New Zealand citizen with the slaughter of all the innocent animals happening. Also I get sick and tired of hearing made up figures of the amount of cats etc that kill native birds. The true figure has never yet been scientifically researched. A small group of cats that are known hunters were recruited and then any animal caught by them recorded. This then was multiplied so people could make up the figures of numbers of NATIVE birds killed. There is no way the figures are even close to being accurate.
    I have yet to read the number of rodents killed by cats? Funny how media make out stray cats live on native birds when cat skate have proven rodents are the number one prey of cats. I can see why overseas countries think we are a pack of cruel idiots slaughtering innocent animals to save some native grass or plant or lizard etc. I shall continue to feed the hedgehog family in my yard as they have eaten every slug and snail in the garden and do a wonderful natural job with no poisons.
    I know of Anne and she is amazing, compassionate caring lady who doesn’t discriminate which animal is worth saving. (Abridged.)

  15. TrevorH, 14. July 2018, 8:24

    @ Carolyn: well said. With the demise of religion people fall easy prey to new dogmas such as “Predator Free NZ”. It’s frightening how quickly ordinary folk and especially the young can be indoctrinated into taking a sense of satisfaction from killing.

  16. CC, 14. July 2018, 9:56

    Carolyn, how many people do you expect to commend you for supporting the extinction of species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world? As for scientific proof to counter your ‘facts’, one could start with the observation that the likes of Tui, Korero, Kaka and other endemic bird species were not seen throughout the city less than two decades ago. Has it been cats killing rodents that made the difference? Not likely, as there are are now probably less felines around. For your thesis to hold any credibility, one would have to assume that local trapping groups are unsuccessful – apart from allowing persons with murderous intent to pretend to kill introduced species that you seem to think only hypothetically kill endemic species. Not even probable! The kill numbers are available and not made up. Now – where is your evidence that, “overseas countries think we are a pack of cruel idiots slaughtering innocent animals to save some native grass or plant or lizard etc.” As for your comments about Ann (whoever she is), it sounds from your comments as though she does discriminate. It is a pity her sympathies, seemingly like yours, don’t appear to lie in saving threatened species.
    At long last, there is an increasing mobilisation to reverse the extinctionist trend for which New Zealand really is world renowned. Yes, the process of reducing the presence of foreign predators is unpleasant, but supporting the destruction of endemic species by protecting the free reign of introduced killers has had its day.

  17. Citizen Joe, 14. July 2018, 10:10

    Spot on TrevorH – yes kiwis are as susceptible to government dictates as Chinese were to Mao’s. Remember Mao’s 1958 “kill all sparrows” dictate as one part of his four pests campaign. Rats, flies and mosquitoes were the three others. Near extirpation of sparrows caused an ecological ‘imbalance’ (to put it mildly) and was a massive waster of person power so he pardoned sparrows and committed bedbugs to death instead.


    In case you are wondering. Rats, flies, mosquitoes and bedbugs all survived and are doing just fine.

  18. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 14. July 2018, 16:52

    In response to CC, one of the things I have needed to educate myself about during the course of our campaign is the birdlife. I’ve learned to identify birds by both observation and listening to their calls. I’ve learned to do bird counts and while I would not consider myself an expert, I’ve yet to spot a korero, In fact I think that is what we are having right now eh?

    In reference to one of the other commenters, CC states “It is a pity her sympathies, seemingly like yours, don’t appear to lie in saving threatened species”. Do beg to differ on that count, she is on record turning up for a media interview with a bloodied face having stopped to assist an injured pukeko who was victim of traffic. The pukeko had pecked her on the face in the process, but that did not stop her from assisting the bird.

    CC queries commenter Carolyn “where is your evidence that, overseas countries think we are a pack of cruel idiots slaughtering innocent animals” A link was tendered in our initial comment to this article but for some reason it was not published, we’ll have another go and share a couple:

  19. CC, 14. July 2018, 22:14

    Sorry Sekhmet Bast Ra, it was poor editing when Kereru became korero – but you knew that anyway.
    The anecdote about the Pukeko was interesting. Was that one of the small, vulnerable Hutt Road flock that appear to have relocated to Trelissick Park since predator control teams have been active in the area? Also strange that a ‘helper’ should be attacked in such a manner. Did you wonder why?
    Notably, “cruel idiots slaughtering innocent animals” does not seem to be recorded on Psychology Today or in any of its links as you implied. It is also disturbing to think that the reason for NZ’s high levels of domestic violence might be because kids set predator traps to save endemic species, as posited by the retired academic you cited. NZ research suggests other factors including poverty and domestic factors are pre-determinants.

  20. Farmer John, 15. July 2018, 16:54

    I think you will find that the Pukeko or Australian swamp hen has only been in NZ for at most 1,000 years and is more likely to have been brought by Maori 400 years ago.


    Some farmers and life-style blockers consider them a pest with little care shown them when they cross the road. But I leave them alone on my farm as I do the hedgehog, the hare and the Queensland silver-eye which I see Porirua is claiming as a native.

    Oh the taxonomy skills of the city bureaucrat!

  21. Josie B., 15. July 2018, 16:58

    CC – think again? NZ’s cruelty to small mammals – actually done at a school fair of all places – has even made it internationally.


  22. Andy Mellon, 15. July 2018, 18:44

    @Carolyn. Pretty much the only NZ mammal that can kill an adult Kea is a feral cat (or a human). Feral cats have been filmed in Arthur’s Pass National Park killing mature females nesting. For the adult Kea at least, a rat isn’t a problem, a cat is. When the Kea has a population of a mere 2,000-5,000, the death of any mature, breeding female is an impediment to their survival. Especially when their population is well disbursed and at very low densities.

    Do you advocate no management of mammalian species? If so, you’re condemning species such as the Kea to extinction. Bearing in mind this is one of the most intelligent species on earth, with evidence to support their use of tools and structured play for the purpose of fun, it’d be a sad day for inertia to allow the species to go. Furthermore, ‘solutions’ like protected offshore islands (which would never exist in a trap/poison free environment) would never work for the Kea.

  23. Katy Mansfield, 15. July 2018, 19:55

    Andy, Perhaps DOC should fine themselves for killing 24 Kea with 1080 poison? And perhaps humans should stop feeding them at tourist sites?


  24. CC, 15. July 2018, 20:09

    The comprehension skills of some farmers isn’t too hot. Did anyone make reference to the origin of Pukeko? Certainly neither of the correspondents that gave rise to the farming taxonomist’s comment did.
    Josie – what in the Guardian report supports Carolyn’s projection, “overseas countries think we are a pack of cruel idiots slaughtering innocent animals to save some native grass or plant or lizard etc.”? The report cites NZ sources, not ‘overseas’ perceptions. It also makes it clear that the dressing up of dead possums and drowning of joeys is not approved of by ‘conservationists’ in the same way as animal rights advocates. In fact, the report appears quite balanced in explaining the threat to endemic species and issues that raises.
    Meanwhile, getting back to basics – another successful outcome despite the cries of non-interventionists: https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/102702681/native-birds-flourish-in-brook-sanctuary

  25. Andy Mellon, 15. July 2018, 21:28

    @Katy Mansfield. Talk about changing the subject. That’s a great example of whataboutery and completely irrelevant to the point I was making.

  26. Katy Mansfield, 16. July 2018, 9:39

    Andy Mellon – I thought the article was about pest ‘control’ which should be called ‘killing’ and which is often cruel. Check this article about gin traps in Upper Hutt which I find abhorrent.

  27. Andy Mellon, 16. July 2018, 10:30

    Katy – you specifically replied to my comment as far as I can tell. I can’t see any other Andy that has posted here, so perhaps if you’re going to refer to me you could address my comment as opposed to looking to shift the discussion elsewhere, which you’ve now attempted twice.

  28. CC, 16. July 2018, 11:50

    For goodness sake Katy, don’t keep destroying your credibility with, as Andy says, ‘whataboutery’. Your latest link refers to an illegal act – not a sanctioned predator control practice.

  29. Katy Mansfield, 16. July 2018, 19:50

    CC – killing mammals involves pain and suffering and I don’t want any of it sanctioned in my name. If you want to play the species god then fine play it but please don’t implicate me or other New Zealanders in your ‘predator free NZ objective’. If you read the article you will see that “The Ministry for Primary Industries website states approval for use of restricted traps can be granted “in certain limited situations where it is in the public interest and there is no viable alternative”, however none can be used within 150 metres of a residential dwelling”. So gin traps despite their cruelty appear not to be a 100% illegal activity in NZ.

  30. Andrew, 16. July 2018, 21:03

    Why are gin traps being discussed? Local volunteer pest control is handled by tunnel traps (normally with a fairly bog standard rat trap inside).

  31. Josie B., 16. July 2018, 21:26

    Hey Andy and CC a couple of ‘scientists’ have come out this evening and said there are problems with Predator Free NZ by 2050 National Govt dictate!

    The scientists say:
    1) Predator extermination may not be the best way to protect biodiversity
    2) The country does not need to eradicate every stoat, rat and possum to protect biodiversity
    3) A complete eradication of predators is impossible
    4) It’s cruel and unsafe and it fails to consider Maori views.

    So don’t badger everybody about killing small mammals.

  32. Katy Mansfield, 16. July 2018, 21:31

    CC – I was referring to the article’s heading “taking predator control into their own hands.” Isn’t that what the person did in Upper Hutt with his gin trap? How do you kill the animals you trap and how often do you check your traps? Does any mammal you kill suffer at all?

  33. Neil D, 16. July 2018, 21:58

    The two scientists have been on the radio tonight too.


    Dr Linklater said some people would not support the policy on moral grounds. “We have a community who have a diversity of views and values about animals and how you treat them. There are many in New Zealand who might regard being ‘cruelty free’ as a more loftier goal than being ‘predator free’. “And for many of them rolling out the current tools to kill predators is going to be regarded as cruel.”

    Dr Linklater said the programme would be expensive and might not even work.

  34. CC, 16. July 2018, 22:45

    Josie B – i suggest you read the article again, but more critically. It doesn’t say what you think it does. For a start, aspects of long term protection of endemic species they posit have been bread and butter for decades and will continue to be so as long as the time, funding and efforts of committed conservationists and statutory bodies is available. With regard to the points you highlighted, one always has to wonder why the qualifier ‘may not’ is included in point 1, why there is the counterbalancing of 2 and 3, and is point 4 based on research, supposition or informed opinion. Saliently, have Linklater and Steer suggested that reducing the impact of introduced predators is not desirable? Another question to be considered is, how do the opinions of those two stack up against the body of opinion of other equally and more qualified scientists?

    Katy Mansfield – does the killing of endemic species by introduced predators not inflict pain and suffering? Do you want to add ‘supporting the extinction of species that don’t belong anywhere else in the world’ to the list of things done in your name? As far as the approval of gin traps is concerned, can you conceive of any ‘special circumstances’ that might be in the public interest where approval might be given? It is not likely when there are options like the Good Nature self-resetting traps that are far more humane than a feral cat taking down a kea or a hedgehog dealing to a rare skink. Your comment about ‘species god’ is ad hominem and uncalled for. How would you view being referred by a derogatory term because you appear to have no qualms about consigning species unique to NZ to extinction?

  35. Andy Foster, 17. July 2018, 9:20

    Well done to Tait, Hugo and Claude for your work and creating Traplordz. CC and Andy Mellon – thank you for your comments and informed replies.

    Anne – no we cannot bring New Zealand back to what it once was, but we can, and are trying to halt decline and restore what we can.

    We all know these islands are home to a unique set of plants, birds, lizards, insects with a very high percentage of endemism. We also know beyond any doubt that the predators we humans have introduced are the key ongoing threat to indigenous bird, reptile and I suspect insect life. Yes we also have to protect environments/habitats from ourselves. Human hunting has been devastating (moa, seals, whales, huia, bycatch of seabirds and sealions etc), environmental modification likewise, but the number one threat is quite clearly now introduced mammalian predators.

    The scientific and experiential evidence is unsurprisingly 100% clear that indigenous species do a whole lot better when they and their chicks aren’t being killed, and their eggs eaten, by introduced predators. Are there more birds on island and in mainland fenced sanctuaries than outside them ? Is that because the vegetation / food supply is markedly better – or because there are no predators there ? Anyone who goes tramping knows that our wonderful forests are largely silent cathedrals. That’s predators. Wellington is a showcase for the benefits of controlling predators and environmental restoration. We see that in the significant and ongoing increases in indigenous birdlife.

    1080 has been raised in several comments. Again the evidence (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment et al) is clear that the benefits from use of 1080 far outweigh any impacts on native species. At the moment there is no viable alternative. Anecdotally I had the pleasure of two trips through the Heaphy/Wangapeka over the last 8 months, the first during a 1080 drop, the second 5 months later. It was great to see many birds, especially bellbirds, robins, weka, silvereye, and also tui, kereru and whio and in two places riflemen on the second visit.

    Let’s be clear, it is not the predators´ fault they are here or that they do what they do. However if we do nothing then all the unique species which live only in New Zealand will have their range and numbers further reduced until one day they are altogether gone. We are their kaitiaki and cannot let that happen. What we have to do is to remove those predators – yes that means killing – but as CC says there are great efforts to do this as humanely as possible. Traps in particular have to pass humane kill tests. To suggest that involvement in predator control will lead people to exercise violence against other people is just bizarre and desperate. Predator control is about life, saving the lives of unique and precious species that live nowhere but New Zealand.

    I want again to thank all the fantastic people in DoC, local government and the increasing thousands of wonderful people in Wellington and around New Zealand who want to do something practical and are involved hands on in trapping. Kia kaha !

  36. Andy Mellon, 17. July 2018, 10:00

    @Neil D. Wayne Linklater again. The erstwhile Associate Professor is adept at putting sweeping comments out in the media, but not so adept at providing tangible advice and support. I have asked him a number of times to provide insight into how the remaining populations of Kea could be protected (as his proposed methods don’t seem practical in Alpine regions) and he hasn’t seen fit to reply.

    Great that you could get down to the Wangapeka, Andy Foster. Last time I was down there, the place was overrun with wasps – so many, the ground was teeming with them. Up at Kiwi Saddle, over the course of 7 days, I only saw a single Kea. My last visit was before 1080 drops in the area. I might have to go down over the summer and see if the Kea is more visible than before. Kaka will struggle down there with the wasp competition, I would expect.

    I wonder if the UK would take some hedgehogs back given their increasing scarcity in their natural home?

  37. Katy Mansfield, 17. July 2018, 10:16

    CC – I think you have me wrong – I’m not in favour of any mammal, bird or insect being killed especially in a painful way and even more especially when its not for food – I’m a vegetarian and my principle is ‘live and let live’ and to be kind to all creatures great and small. I don’t believe in a god and I apologise for upsetting your sensibilities in this regard.