Bid to bring native birds back to Riccarton area

Jade Humphrey and Riccarton Bush park ranger Mike Steenson are working to eliminate predators...
Jade Humphrey and Riccarton Bush park ranger Mike Steenson are working to eliminate predators threatening native species in the Riccarton area. Photo: Star Media
A project has been launched to bring more native birds and other species to the Riccarton area.

Predator Free Riccarton’s Jade Humphrey is behind the push for more trapping, both in public reserves private properties.

The Geology PhD student is waiting to hear back on a $5000 funding application that would help people to trap rats from their own back yards.

If its Predator Free New Zealand funding bid is successful, it would subsidise traps or the materials to make them.

“At the moment you can buy a trap for $40,” Humphrey said.

Jade Humphrey and Mike Steenson rebait and reset a trap. Photo: Star Media
Jade Humphrey and Mike Steenson rebait and reset a trap. Photo: Star Media
“It’s quite a diverse area, Riccarton, and that might not be affordable for everyone.”

The traps would target rats, although in future the group would also like to target possums, hedgehogs and other pests.

The group is also supplementing trapping work by doing clean-ups of rubbish in public spaces that would attract rats, and by weeding out invasive species threatening native plants that are food sources for native birds.

While people should nurture wildlife, she also believed wildlife nurtured people.

“Especially with Covid, and lockdown and being overwhelmed in isolation, going out into those green spaces and hearing our native bird sounds, it’s just incredible.

The project was also about connecting the community, she said.

The group was co-ordinating with Canterbury University groups including the Student Volunteer Army, schools, the Riccarton Community Patrol, and Riccarton Bush ranger Mike Steenson.

“With Riccarton Bush we’re in the process of putting all their traps that they’ve already employed onto our project, so we will manage them.”

“It’s really awesome to have [Mike] on board.”

A rat trap. Photo: Star Media
A rat trap. Photo: Star Media
Predator Free Riccarton was also in the process of getting permission to trap in Corfe Reserve and hoped this would be the first of many.

The group had created a site for people to report their progress, and also had a facebook site encouraging people to reach out.

“A lot of the rat trapping is actually getting people reporting: When do you rebait your trap, when do you reset your trap.

“We can’t just go and hand out traps to people, we need to make sure we’ve got systems in place.”

The group was aligned with Predator Free 2050, a government drive to eradicate the most damaging introduced predators.

“It’s a very ambitious goal which starts with little projects like this.

“By the end of the year, I’d love to see maybe 500 traps out in the community,’’ Humphrey said.

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