Wellington Scoop

Predator Free Wellington starts installing 6000 traps on Miramar Peninsula

Photo from RNZ

News from Predator Free Wellington
The country’s biggest urban predator eradication operation begins today as the Predator Free Wellington team begin installing 6,000 traps and bait stations in backyards across the Miramar Peninsula.

Predator Free Wellington is a 10 year project aiming to make Wellington free of rats, possums and mustelids. The first stage of the eradication project is focused on the Miramar Peninsula.

James Willcocks, Predator Free Wellington’s Project Director, said: “It is the first time an urban eradication has ever been done at this scale, it’s definitely the biggest urban predator eradication the country has ever seen.

“There are about 20,000 people living on the peninsula and our team has spent the first part of this year speaking with them. Incredibly we now have almost 3,000 households and businesses hosting a bait station or trap on their property,” said James.

Wade Hammond of Strathmore is one of the residents who has agreed to help. As a regular trapper in his backyard and local reserves, Wade said the birdlife on the peninsula has exploded recently, we’re noticing heaps of tui, kereru around, even korimako (bellbird). “It’s amazing to think we’ll be rat free by the end of this year,” Wade said.

“Having such a huge amount of support from the community effectively means we now have a team of thousands, and it means we can achieve zero predators relatively quickly,” James said.

“By the end of this year, we hope to have a Christmas present for Wellington – a peninsula with zero rats, stoats, weasels and possums.

“Achieving our goal of zero so quickly is only possible because we’re not starting from scratch, we’re basically here to finish the job. The peninsula is already possum free, this is thanks to the great work done back in 2003 by Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council.

“We’re also building on the work of Predator Free Miramar community trappers who have been trapping on the peninsula for the last two years and have made a huge dent in the rat population, catching almost 5,000 rats to date,” James said.

Dan Henry is leading the community group Predator Free Miramar. Dan said our community is really excited about this project.

“People are sharing pictures of karearea and ruru in their gardens, and requests for our backyard traps have gone through the roof in recent weeks as people scramble to get involved,” said Dan. “In a year where the rest of the country is seeing record high rat numbers, Wellingtonians are working together to create the world’s first predator free capital city,” said James.

“We are working on a complete eradication model, which will make Wellington safe for our native wildlife, and it starts with backyard trappers. Every trapper, every resident, can help create this world first for Wellington, a capital city where our native wildlife can thrive, and will ensure seeing kākā, tui and kākāriki in our backyards is normal.”

“Once we reach zero rats, stoats and weasels on the peninsula, we can take what we’ve learnt and look to spread the success formula into Island Bay and then the central city, and in successive waves north to Porirua,” James said.

Predator Free Wellington is a 10 year project supported by NEXT Foundation, Wellington City Council, the Wellington Regional Council, Taranaki Whānui and Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

Regional Council proud to support Predator Free Wellington

Additional facts and figures:

– Predator Free Wellington has trapping groups across 44 Wellington suburbs. These groups have caught more than 60,000 predators and this is just the beginning.

– Predator Free Wellington is working with ZIP (Zero Invasive Predators) to build a virtual barrier by the airport to stop rats, possums and mustelids getting back onto the peninsula. We hope to be installing this in October this year.

– The success of the Miramar Peninsula possum eradication, led by Greater Wellington Regional Council and Wellington City Council, had a positive and long-lasting effect on the local ecosystem. Before the possum eradication in 2003, Tui were rarely seen on the peninsula – in fact the numbers went from 1 sighting in 2000 up to 144 sightings in 2006.

– A Wellington City Council survey of residents this year showed that 92% of Wellingtonians support a predator free Wellington, this is significantly more than 84% when we last surveyed in 2017. The survey also shown Wellingtonians are increasingly involved in hands on restoration work and 70% of survey respondents are actively involved in controlling predators in their backyards or in reserves, or have done some predator control work in the past.

– Wellington is one of six projects Predator Free 2050 Limited is funding and co-ordinating. Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Waiheke, Dunedin and South Westland. Each has an area to remove predators from and protect from reinvasion, some are targeting possums, some stoats and Wellington is the first to remove rats from a complete suburb. In total 50,000 ha are targeted for eradication. This is proving the predator free game is indeed possible on mainland NZ and transforms the outlook for wildlife.

Report from RNZ
Wade Hammond lives in Strathmore with his partner Jacqueline and son Walter. They signed on as volunteers three months ago and the 15 traps they maintain on their land and the reserve over the fence kill on average 10 pests a night. That’s about 300 fewer vermin already, and the community has got together online to share their best extermination stories.

“Everybody … in our little community group takes photos, they pull the rat out, put it besides the trap and takes photos,” Mr Hammond said. “It’s a bit of bragging rights, everybody posts on Facebook and everybody comments what the best baits are and the best way to set the trap and things like that.”

He said their efforts have made a difference already. In the last month, the number of birds in the area have exploded.


  1. James Fallow, 8. July 2019, 16:28

    It’s not been done before because it’s a stupid cruel idea and it can’t be done. Miramar is a peninsula. Don’t trust the survey results – 94% support my a**.

  2. Andy Mellon, 8. July 2019, 17:27

    It can be done. It requires ongoing maintenance, but if Alberta can manage it, then it’s possible in Miramar.

  3. Andy Foster, 8. July 2019, 21:01

    This is a fantastic step forward.
    James Farrow – what is a first is not about being or not being cruel. We are working to stop native birds and lizards and insects being killed by predators. The ‘first’ here is that this is the first pest eradication in a large urban area. It’s been done many times in little inhabited areas (islands and mainland islands) but not in a place where thousands of people live.
    The PF Wellington team have been doing a magnificent job over many, many months in preparation. There is a huge amount of science and experience brought to bear on this. The Miramar community has been awesome in its support. Miramar already leads the city in pests trapped. This is the next step. And yes the survey results are crystal clear. Less than 1% of those surveyed were opposed.
    Together we are doing something special in environmental restoration in Wellington and predator removal is the next big step.

    Andy Foster
    Predator Free Wellington Portfolio Leader, Wellington City Council

  4. Curtis Antony Nixon, 9. July 2019, 11:26

    In answer to James’ protest -“it’s a peninsular” – that element counts towards the do-ability of this eradication plan, not against it. There is an airport runway creating near total separation from the mainland – and only small strips of road and rocky foreshore at either end that need to be protected with a line of traps.

  5. Helen, 9. July 2019, 13:15

    How many of our ratepayer dollars will be wasted on this crazy scheme? Pet shops will be banned from selling mice next. WCC staff need to be ‘culled’ and, of course we would all be better off if we were 100% GWRC FREE!

  6. Donald T., 9. July 2019, 13:18

    ‘Predator Free’ has never even been contemplated in Alberta Canada!

  7. James Fallow, 9. July 2019, 17:02

    Nixon – a peninsula is by its nature not a separated land structure and rats can walk, run, hitch a lift in trucks and even swim over.
    That is only one of the many logistic reasons why the planned extinction event under the guise of “biodiversity” will never work.

  8. Andy Mellon, 9. July 2019, 17:07

    Donald T – no, but they have demonstrated the technical feasibility of exclusion of rats from the province. If that’s possible, then predator free on a small scale peninsular should be eminently achievable.

  9. TrevorH, 9. July 2019, 20:09

    Yes it’s great the possums are gone and the burgeoning birdlife is wonderful. But rats are a different proposition – they are joined at the hip to humans and are very intelligent. For our part we run an exchange scheme with Buzz the wondercat who regularly deposits dead rats – heaps this year – on our back step as koha for a bowl of mince and a scratch around the ears. Cats can intercept their rodent prey’s communications at frequencies well beyond our ability and seek them out. It’s little wonder our ancient forebears chose to domesticate them to protect their grain harvests, as a matter of life or death for the community.

  10. Goofy, 10. July 2019, 5:37

    Birdlife was flourishing before the start of the “predator free” movement. The council are self glorified “pest exterminators” with a stated goal of a local extinction event. Forget all our services that have been privatized by stealth and forget having a working bus system, a Library or Town Hall, as the Council have become addicted to killing small furry mammals . They have warped priorities if you ask me.

  11. Derek, 10. July 2019, 8:33

    @Andy Mellon: rats in Alberta don’t like -30 degrees C and hang out in towns with the world’s #1 worse mammal – humans. And the humans in control of Alberta have a phobia about rats. Have a look at how the world rat map has changed over time… I can see something similar happening for the tiny dot which is the Miramar peninsular.

  12. Andy Mellon, 10. July 2019, 12:13

    Thanks Derek – that’s quite amusing. Of course, this could well be a case of Schrodinger’s Rat. They could both be present and not present at the same time. I don’t think Alberta’s -30C year round, and plenty of pastoral farming there which is attractive to the erstwhile rat. Either way, from the practical sense of impact on ‘birdlife’ then Alberta demonstrates some degree of practical feasibility for PFNZ’s attempts.

    @Goofy. What birdlife was flourishing pre-predator free? Certainly not many native birds