Ecosanctuary pest bid going public

Landscape Connections Trust trustee Dave Sharp (left), Orokonui Ecosanctuary conservation manager...
Landscape Connections Trust trustee Dave Sharp (left), Orokonui Ecosanctuary conservation manager Elton Smith (centre) and Landscape Connections Trust Halo project manager Rhys Millar with traps which they hope the community will use to eradicate pests...

Dunedin residents are being offered the chance to learn how to kill pests in their own back yards as part of a new project aimed at protecting the area beyond Orokonui Ecosanctuary.

The Orokonui Halo Project will provide community groups and individuals with traps and bait stations to assist with the management of stoats and possums.

Project manager Rhys Millar said invasive pests were a significant threat to the area beyond the ecosanctuary.

Last year up to 50 saddlebacks at the ecosanctuary were killed by a stoat and two kits (stoat cubs).

Mr Millar said one positive outcome from the stoat invasion was an increase in awareness of the destruction pests could cause.

"The community has been asking for a long time how they can help protect the ecosystem beyond the sanctuary.

"That situation raised the profile for the need for protection a bit.''

The project was a collaboration between the Landscape Connections Trust, the ecosanctuary, the Department of Conservation, the Dunedin City Council and Ospri, he said.

As well as protecting the immediate area around the sanctuary, the project would support any community group who wanted to be proactive about pest management.

"We will support groups regardless of where they are from with the provision of traps and training sessions because over time all of the effects will join up.''

The Landscape Connections Trust would employ a full-time field officer to engage with different groups in the city to provide case-specific training and advice, he said.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary conservation manager Elton Smith said the project was the next logical step for the sanctuary.

"We have set up the fence, established the sanctuary, so protecting the halo area makes sense.''

The ecosanctuary had a "moral obligation'' to try to protect species that were leaving the sanctuary, he said.

● The public is invited to a meeting to update the community on the project at Orokonui Ecosanctuary on May 10 from 7pm-8.30pm.

margot.taylor@odt.co.nz

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