Wellington Scoop

They’re counting rats in Miramar, preparing to make it predator free

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
A survey of the rat population in Kilbirnie begins on Friday to gain an understanding of the size of the population that could impact Miramar Peninsula when it becomes predator free.

Greater Wellington Team Leader, Land, Ecology and Climate Dr Philippa Crisp said the survey is an important part of Predator Free Wellington’s data gathering stage. It’s important we know as much as it can about the rat populations of Wellington and factor this knowledge into our project planning.

“Despite its uniquely defensible location, the Miramar Peninsula’s western boundary is vulnerable. The airport, Cobham Drive and Moa Point Road each provide rat runs into the peninsula, gaps which must be plugged if we are to win the war against predators,” said Dr Crisp.

To gauge the scale of the rat population in adjacent Kilbirnie chew cards which record the presence of rats, have been placed at 100 metre intervals in a square roughly encompassing Evans Bay Marina – Maranui Surf Club – Onepu Road – Cobham Drive – Evans Bay Marina ahead of the introduction of yet to be developed measures to prevent the migration of rats.

“Before we can design barriers to prevent rats getting on to the peninsula we need to understand the pressure that will be applied by the volume of rats trying to pass through.”

The chew cards, which attract and record rats using peanut-butter, will be placed by Greater Wellington staff from 23 November and will remain in place for three days until collection. A team from Greater Wellington will analyse the results, which will be fed into a calculation to determine the deployment of trap and bait stations along the barriers.

The approach is not new to Miramar, having been used last year to establish the size of the rat population on the peninsula. A follow-up survey was undertaken in May this year.

Predator Free Wellington is a partnership between NEXT Foundation, the Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Iwi, and is supported by Predator Free 2050 Ltd. The initial focus is on eradicating rats and stoats from Miramar Peninsula, with a plan to extend the strategy to making the whole of Wellington predator free over the next ten years.

www.pfw.org.nz .

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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  1. Sekhmet Bast Ra, 23. November 2018, 14:21

    Interesting to read the brave conservation warriors remain diligently on the job and fully committed to the task of executing small furry animals. In a previous press release Dr Philippa Crisp is quoted as stating “Last year’s study found that rat populations tended to be higher on the coast, perhaps because of the greater abundance of food there. We’re hoping this repeat study will provide more insight into population size and location”. We suggest more rats in coastal areas is related to there being less residences on the coast and thus less domestic Cats on the job containing the rodent population rather than coastal areas providing a better food supply for rats. In another report we note that despite “trapping and smashing rats left right and centre” as Predator Free Miramar founder Dan Henry so succinctly put it, according to the annual rat census the rat population has increased by 5%. In ecology this is called the vacuum effect. Nature has a way of bouncing back, the more you kill, the more you get. This all amounts to confirmation of the folly of both Predator Free Wellington and indeed the folly of the entire idea of Predator Free 2050.

  2. Katy Mansfield, 23. November 2018, 15:16

    Well said Sehkmet – the only winners out of this is DOC and other council departments assigning themselves a totally stupid task.

  3. TrevorH, 23. November 2018, 16:23

    @Sekhmet Bast Ra. Yes you are correct. Rats and people have been joined at the hip since at least neolithic times when humans began to farm and store grain. Humans observed that cats hunted and suppressed the rodents which ate the grain and invited them into their homes to continue this useful work. The idea that Miramar can be made and kept rat free while humans are present there is simply deluded.

  4. Andy Foster, 24. November 2018, 6:29

    Sekhmet Bast Ra, Katy and Trevor – I find it very strange that you are happy that cats kill rats, and that rats kill birds, lizards and insects and take bird eggs and kill chicks – but not that we kill rats.
    Question – would you want rats running around in your house ? They will eat your wiring – might cause a fire – I understand 8% of house fires are put down to rodent damage. They will eat your plumbing – I know personally two people who’ve had to rebuild kitchens flooded after rats chewed through the dishwasher pipes.

    In simple terms do you want rats more than native birds, lizards and insects ? Is the ongoing posting supporting predators because you like them more than the birds – or is it just you don’t think it is possible to get rid of them ?

    Thousands and thousands of Wellingtonians are actively trapping, saying they want rats gone, and the birds to come back. Over the last 25 years we have made quite incredible progress across our city in environmental restoration. We can of course do much more and Predator Free Wellington/Capital Kiwi is the next big step in that, along with completing our green reserve network, Zealandia, and active and assisted re-vegetation. We have gone from a couple of environmental care groups to over 140, plus having predator free groups in almost every suburb.

    In eradicating rats on the Miramar peninsula we are indeed setting out to do something that has not been done before at least in New Zealand in an urban area. It has however been done many times before in island or fenced sanctuaries on the mainland. Possums are already eradicated from Miramar. There is a lot of science and a lot of knowledge going into this eradication. The monitoring being referred to in the article is part of that scientific approach.
    You are right that it is people that make this more challenging. It is also people who will make it possible.

  5. TrevorH, 24. November 2018, 16:39

    Hi Andy – I think it is possible and desirable to limit the numbers of rats in urban areas. Regular rubbish collection, trapping and the household moggy etc all have their part to play. But I don’t believe it is possible to eradicate them totally in Miramar unless you put us all behind a fence or dig a canal through Cobham Drive. Even then I believe rats and other predators like stoats have been found to swim considerable distances in search of food.

  6. Andy Mellon, 24. November 2018, 18:16

    People at one time didn’t think it was possible to eradicate rats from islands. I was also reading an article this week that rats have effectively been eradicated from the whole Canadian province of Alberta.
    The principle of getting rid of rats in a region is never going to be easy. In particular with rats, they easily stow-away in boats so even if they’re eradicated from the mainland, they could easily be reintroduced through ports. On the other hand, if a whole Canadian province can achieve it (rat control process required twice a month on average), then it certainly isn’t as unachievable for an area like Miramar (or Wellington) as it first seems.

  7. Katy Mansfield, 25. November 2018, 9:22

    Andy – I never said I’m happy that cats kill rats. My perfect world would be where every creature was vegetarian. There are no rats running round my house but there are some field mice nearby and I saw a hedgehog yesterday. I won’t say where I live for obvious reasons.

  8. TrevorH, 25. November 2018, 10:39

    @ Andy M. History and geography have contributed greatly to Alberta’s success against the Norwegian rat. The Rockies largely defend its western border. The rat has gradually migrated from the East and the battle has mainly been fought on Alberta’s border with Saskatchewan since the 1950s. In New Zealand we have three rat species, the black (most common) the Pacific (kiore) and the Norwegian. They appear to be widely dispersed with the Norwegian gaining ground in urban areas.

  9. Mike M, 25. November 2018, 18:35

    TrevorH: Alberta is one land mass of 661,000 sq km, with land borders in every direction, and no significant obstacles to the south and east; NZ is several discrete land masses totalling 268,000 sq km, with the obstacle of thousands of kilometres of ocean in every direction. Alberta is also a major grain producer.

    So if large Alberta, with lots of grain and limited natural barriers, can break your grain-related join at the hip between rats and humans (and without the canals or fences that you say the very small Miramar peninsula requires), why can’t small naturally protected NZ with much less grain do the same?

    Katy M: I’d like to live in a perfect world, too, but the reality is that introduced rats etc eat native species, many endangered. The only winners from predator control are clearly native fauna, not DoC, and if you oppose predator control you are implicitly supporting much native fauna being eaten to extinction. That’s very sad indeed.

  10. Mel G., 25. November 2018, 18:43

    I note the kiore rat (the third most common rat in the world) is viewed as taonga by Maori (who brought them to NZ) so I doubt Andy’s 100% eradication campaign will be tolerated for ‘cultural’ reasons.

  11. Andrew, 25. November 2018, 18:57

    Mel G: sounds like a cultural conundrum when one taonga is feasting on another…

  12. Jonny Utzone, 26. November 2018, 6:58

    I’d bet on the rat winning the mammalian race and the cockroach taking out overall critter award (are cockroaches native to NZ by the way)?