Wellington Scoop

Eat a pest (and collect free rat traps) for Conservation Week in Wellington

Press Release – Department of Conservation
People can give our native species a helping hand in Wellington starting this weekend by answering the call to Conservation Week. Local food trucks at Harbourside Market will serve pest-themed dishes with prizes for the first to eat their way through the menu, including wild venison pie and goat dumplings.

People can also get their hands dirty at working bees, shop for native plants, or hear from expert speakers at a range of events across the city.

Conservation Week runs from 15-23 September. With the theme “Conservation Week is Calling”, the Department of Conservation is encouraging people to get involved in conservation-related activities during the week and find out how they can help turn around the loss of our unique biodiversity.

DOC Kapiti Wellington Community Ranger Lee Barry says New Zealand’s native wildlife is in crisis with more than 4,000 of our species threatened or at risk.

“We need to act now or we could lose wonderful, unique native species. If they go, we will lose a part of what makes New Zealand special.

“The biggest threat to our plants and wildlife is from introduced predators like rats, stoats and possums. Getting rid of predators is an important first step.

“Wellington is well on the way to becoming the first predator free city. At some events people can pick up a free rat trap and learn how to do their bit to achieve Predator Free 2050.”

Lee Barry says people can also answer the call by volunteering their time, or giving a donation to support a community conservation group.

Cleaning up waterways, creating safe homes for wildlife and getting rid of weeds and planting native species are other actions people can take to help protect our biodiversity.

“Thousands of New Zealanders are already contributing to conservation. When we pull together we can make a big difference.”

A selection of Conservation Week activities in Wellington includes:

Sunday 16 Sept, Pest Feast, Harbourside Market, 8am – 2pm.
Local food trucks serve pest-themed dishes with prizes for the first to eat through the menu. DOC rangers on hand with tips on trapping and weeding. Free rat traps available.

Sunday 16 Sept, Nature Day at Zealandia, end of Waiapu Road, 9am – 5pm.
A day of conservation, featuring half price entry, fun education activities, talks from experts, face painting and more.

Sunday 16 Sept, Baring Head Working Bee, Baring Head, Wainuiomata Coast Road, Lower Hutt, 10am – 1pm.
Work will depend on the weather; either weed work on the coast or restoration at the lighthouse. Meet at the bridge carpark, 1km before the coast on the Wainuiomata Coast Road at 10am. Bring good footwear, clothes for changeable weather and your lunch.

Mon 17 Sept, Pauatahanui Working Bee, Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve, Pauatahanui, Porirua, 9am – 3pm
Expect planting of natives, working in the native plant nursery, removing invasive weeds and some track maintenance. Bring sturdy boots, long sleeves and pants, waterproof jacket, warm layers, a water bottle and some food.

Tues 18 Sept, Project Jonah events at Lower Hutt War Memorial Library, Cnr Queens Drive and Woburn Road, Lower Hutt. Story time with Mina, Schools Educator from Project Jonah 2 pm – 3pm. Hear Project Jonah volunteer Cameron Sang talk about whales, dolphins, and what it’s like to be a volunteer medic with Project Jonah., 6 pm – 7pm.

Weds 19 Sept, Seminar: Living with Wellington’s Wildlife, Zealandia, end of Waiapu Road. 7.30 pm – 8.30 pm. (limited space, registrations required)
This talk from Dr Danielle Shanahan, Manager of Conservation and Research at Zealandia will cover why Wellington is becoming increasingly nature rich, what is driving it and how we could make it even better.

Sat 22 Sept, Otari Open Day Native Plant sale, Otari–Wilton’s Bush, Wilton Road, 10 am – 2 pm
This annual event includes the popular native plant sale, plus a DOC stall with tips on weed control to let natives thrive.

Sat 22 and Sunday 23 Sept, Celebrate Conservation at Wellington Zoo, Wellington Zoo, Daniell Street, 9.30 am – 5 pm.
Celebrate Aotearoa’s unique wildlife with lots of fun conservation-themed activities and half price entry for children. Build a gecko friendly garden, create enrichment for the kea or join the Bubble Man for some popping fun.

Sunday 23 Sept, Pest Feast, Harbourside Market, 8am – 2pm
Local food trucks serve pest-themed dishes with prizes for the first to eat through the menu. DOC rangers on hand with tips on trapping and weeding. Free rat traps available.

For more details on these and other events: www.conservationweek.org.nz

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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  1. Anabel, 15. September 2018, 7:40

    Another creepy marketing strategy from dear old demented nanny State. Goats and deer are not predators.

  2. Josie B., 15. September 2018, 9:42

    So true Anabel, fancy trying to celebrate the mass killing of small furry mammals! Makes me despair of the cruelty of some humans.

  3. Andrew, 15. September 2018, 15:26

    Josie, would your opinion differ if they were not furry? How about other warm blooded beings that happen to have feathers?

  4. Andy Mellon, 15. September 2018, 15:32

    Fancy being the generation responsible for the extinction one of the smartest animals on the planet after humans (Kea) due to refusing to do anything about invasive species. Bring on faunal monoculturalism, eh, Josie?

  5. Farmer Bill, 15. September 2018, 21:22

    Andy. Tui and the lovely multi-coloured Eastern Rosella – a lovely parakeet – are doing just fine on my farm. Spring has brought the hares and hedgehogs out and about too which is great to see too. Birds and small mammals enjoying spring. Truly wonderful to behold.

  6. Heidi P, 16. September 2018, 7:44

    Nature has a wisdom that has not yet been seen in man. (In a few but not yet seen in the mass population or in the political arena.) Man has been and is the biggest “predator”, has destroyed animals’ habitats, has captured and relocated animals on a whim, then has the ignorance to believe (and to blame) animals for extinction and near extinction events that man has caused.

  7. Andy Mellon, 16. September 2018, 13:26

    @Farmer Bill. I’m glad Tui are doing well where you are. They’re doing quite nicely where I am compared to a decade ago. Might be because there’s fewer mammalian predators in the area due to the trapping people are doing round where I am.

    @Heidi. I’m well aware how people contribute to these problems. Working with Kea, I’ve seen them shot, poisoned (food laced with rat poison), run over and nailed to road signs. Still the deaths of Kea associated with people are minuscule compared to those associated with mammalian predators. If we do nothing, the Kea (and many other NZ species) will become extinct. I don’t see the logic in “man being the biggest evil so therefore we should do nothing”.

  8. Farmer Bill, 16. September 2018, 18:15

    Andy – I should have added that the hawks are doing the best of all round here (Gladstone in the Wairarapa). They ripped apart a couple of nesting ducks and a poor young Pukeko last week and have killed at least ten of my small young chickens over the last three months. The nearby vineyards love the hawks as they keep the yellow hammers away from their beloved grapes. And the road kill of possums, rabbits, hares and hedgehogs has also been a boon to them. Although I admire the hawk and the falcon I hate what they do to my chickens. It’s a brutish thing nature.

  9. Heidi P, 17. September 2018, 7:28

    Talk of alleged animal/nature brutality – have any of you seen routine caged farming and dairy practices?
    Andy I did not say what you have said I did. It’s not about doing nothing. You could redirect energy and millions in funding and set up sanctuaries for kea, these protected environments work. Killing aiming for a local extinction event of a few select animals doesn’t.

  10. Farmer Bill, 17. September 2018, 9:32

    Well said Heidi. Chickens run around ‘free’ on my property. I find it sad that people aren’t willing to pay a dollar more at the supermarket for half a dozen eggs laid by hens that have a ‘natural’ life. It’s the people at the end of the food chain who buy ‘cheap’ that cause a lot of the farm problems. And people advocating the extermination of all small furry mammals from NZ are not helping animal welfare.

  11. Andy Mellon, 17. September 2018, 11:09

    A protected sanctuary wouldn’t work for Kea at this stage with the technology we have. Building a protective fence around an alpine valley and then maintaining that fence would cost vastly more than for Zealandia. Kea territory size is also bigger than for Kaka, so you would need to protect a proportionately larger area to get the same conservational benefits. As for cost, Zealandia requires regular support and has a smorgasbord of volunteers to walk the fences and identify issues all year round. Even with the volunteers, that might not be possible in alpine conditions in the depths of winter.

    It would be great to have a protected sanctuary for Kea, but it’s not currently workable. And even if it was feasible to fence off a good enough area in the South Island for this purpose, you’d still need to kill the mammalian pests within that fenced area (and maintain traplines etc. after the fence was closed), so it doesn’t remove the need for 1080/trapping/’pest management’

    As for “killing aiming for a local extinction event of a few select animals doesn’t…” – that’s exactly what is required to set up a sanctuary in the first place and exactly what a sanctuary delivers. So, does the local extinction event work or not?

  12. Russ C., 17. September 2018, 11:48

    Andy – how about exporting a few kea to Taronga Zoo in Sydney and some other well run aviaries? The aussies will look after them as they are very experienced at that sort of thing. And, if a couple do escape – well they should fit in nicely with all the other raucous parrots and parakeets cracking and croaking in the rain forest.

  13. Andy Mellon, 17. September 2018, 12:12

    There are a number of Kea in overseas zoos already (Zoo am Meer (Bremerhaven), Cincinnati Zoo) and there’s a major behavioural research lab in Vienna (https://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/messerli/science/cognition/wildlife/kea-lab/) which houses a number of Kea. I’m sure there’s other Kea in other zoos as well.

    Personally, given the amount of space that Kea need to thrive in when in the wild, even the best of Zoo enclosures can’t really provide the sort of environment to keep a Kea in the way they should be living. Really, zoo preservation is the last resort.

  14. Heidi P, 17. September 2018, 13:10

    Andy I said another sanctuary for parrots when it is needed by DOC, not a zoo. Of course a sanctuary for them would work, they do and you don’t need more technology to build a kea sanctuary. Arthurs Pass is a kea sanctuary.
    You want kea to live as they should be living, give them back more of their habitat, stop dropping poison on them.

  15. Andy Mellon, 17. September 2018, 15:25

    I do my field work in the Arthur’s Pass region. Their numbers are on decline, they are killed on the nest by feral cats and stoats. That is NOT a sanctuary. If you think that’s a sanctuary as things stand then they are doomed to extinction.

    Kea are in decline across their range in the current status quo. I assumed you were talking about some kind of managed change like Zealandia. Your ‘sanctuary’ simply doesn’t exist. Maybe you should come out Kea surveying and see how things have changed – though I’ve been doing it for a decade and you can’t see a change overnight, of course.

  16. Heidi P, 17. September 2018, 16:39

    Andy. A local Wellington extinction event of blacklisted animals will not effect the 5000 South Island kea.
    150,000 kea were killed from about 1870–1970, with culling encouraged by a government bounty campaign. The 5000 remaining kea are now down south eating people’s junk food instead of their native foods. This is part of a cycle that should have been broken ages ago. Humans are feeding them junk and have been the biggest unaddressed threat to both them and their food supply. [abridged]

  17. Andy Mellon, 17. September 2018, 17:17

    Wellington is an irrelevance, I agree, but the same principles apply to species conservation across the board. As for the rest of your post, we’ve already discussed the human paradigm. Solve the problems of feeding kea and lead on buildings (and shotgun pellets) down South will help, but it doesn’t save the kea. Kea populations are still declining in areas where human interactions are rare and even if humans could be stopped from interacting with kea, you’d still have birds being killed on the nest by invasive predators.

  18. Heidi P, 18. September 2018, 11:04

    Andy: govt principles are why kea are now at 5000 and a protected species. As pointed out this is because the Govt decided they were a ” pest” and had 150,000 killed by ignorance of labeling them as pests/predators. Rats didn’t eat shoot and poison 150,000 kea or put them into endangerment. People with ‘principles’ did.

  19. Andy Mellon, 18. September 2018, 15:23

    Rats may not have shot and poisoned 150,000 kea, but they have killed thousands if not more eggs and chicks than that 150,000. To claim rats or other mammalian pests don’t endanger kea is revisionism of the highest order. Anyway, it may all be an irrelevance as according to the latest research, kea have learned to use tools to set off traps to get to the eggs. So, that will let your mammalian friends have carte blanche in the Murchison Mountains. It would be a shame from my point of view for one of the most intelligent species on the planet to become extinct in the wild because we’ve decided that inaction is the highest form of action.

  20. Farmer Bill, 18. September 2018, 16:34

    ‘Predator free’ seems to have morphed into ‘pest free’. I guess someone has realised that native creatures predate too – eg the Hawk and Falcon. I lost another hen today – one of my favourites. Swooped down on by a hawk and ripped apart. Hawks are definitely predators but I see they are a protected species.

  21. Heidi P, 18. September 2018, 16:44

    Is using tools to set off traps and randomly moving traffic cones a measure of intelligent behavior? The action of the Govt’s kea massacre means if kea become extinct it will be directly a consequence of man’s action, man’s stupidity and cruelty. Their extinction will be from the govt label “pest/predator” from the principal action of killing 150,000 of them, action that decimated their numbers.

    Conservation site listed threats to kea:
    “Lead in kea habitat (e.g. flashings and lead-head nails, tyre weights, lead shot)/ Ground based pest control devices (e.g. poison baits and traps laid for pest control)/ aerial 1080/ avian diseases/ food availability and habitat/ accidents with human objects (e.g. motor vehicles, snow groomers, rubbish bins, electricity sub-stations, life-stylers)/ destruction/removal of nuisance individuals (permitted or un-permitted)/ Illicit wildlife trade.” Looks like ignorant man is still predominately their greatest threat.

    I am friends with all life, I do not select one species of bird or one form. I am not a specie-ist.

  22. Andy Mellon, 18. September 2018, 18:12

    As I’ve said before, inaction will condemn them to extinction. If they become extinct, we’ll all be to blame. I found the reference for your list of threats to kea. Shame you removed item number 1, namely “Introduced Mammalian Predators.”

  23. Andy Foster, 18. September 2018, 22:09

    Andy Mellon – good comments as always – thank you.

    Farmer Bill – we often talk about ‘pest predator free’ for precisely the reasons you mention. Hawks (kahu), Falcons (karearea) and Ruru (Morepork) are all predators – but are certainly not pests. The key point is that they were all part of the ecology of these islands for millions of years before humans altered the balance so drastically. Other native species have evolved over those millions of years in response to relatively small numbers of avian predators that hunt by sight. In the short space of a few centuries we brought mammalian predators that grew to vast numbers, and which hunt by smell rendering evolutionary defences largely ineffective.

    Heidi P – therein lies the problem. It is good that you love all life. The question is – what do you do when one of the things you love (rats ??) kills and eats another thing you love – and will keep doing it until the latter is completely wiped out. You have to choose – and the choice should be easy.

    The blunt reality is that we have intervened over the last 700-800 years, in which time we have completely eradicated over 50 species of birds alone. We cannot now stand back and do nothing. Doing that would condemn more beautiful, unique and endangered species to oblivion. That would make us worse than the early settlers, Maori and European who did not have the knowledge we now possess.

    The great thing is that a huge and increasing number of New Zealanders get this, and want to help make a difference.

  24. Heidi P, 19. September 2018, 7:28

    Wrong action is worse than inaction. Yes we know that a lot of people have bought into the govt killing campaigns, children too. A VUW biologist has told you your “predator free” policy is ” badly designed and un-achievable”. He supports spending on restoring habitats, pro sanctuaries. The extinction campaign is an example of ignorance in action.

  25. Andrew, 19. September 2018, 8:46

    Heidi, what if the ‘free’ was dropped and ‘control’ was inserted in its place. Free implies eradication, whereas control looks at containing population numbers. Do you think this a more pragmatic and (actually) achievable goal?

  26. Josie B., 19. September 2018, 10:24

    Andy – humans are part of the ecological system on our little blue planet. Hawks are a predator and a pest – just depends which human is doing the definitions. I see somebody has been pulling out cyclamen on Tinakori Hill. Presumably thought it was a pest – but it’s a native NZ native cyclamen! Another example of species elitism gone bad.

  27. CC, 19. September 2018, 11:13

    Josie B – could you please supply a reference to the NZ native cyclamen you referred to. References such as TERRAIN, NZ Flora, various regional plant guides etc. don’t appear to have it listed. If there is a local varietal, it would be useful to have the Council Nursery propagate it.

  28. Josie B., 19. September 2018, 14:11

    CC – well spotted I meant NZ Clematis Paniculata – the white star shaped climber. It was in flower now until somebody pulled it out. A shame.