Ducks Unlimited NZ
Friday, 23 February 2018 08:12

Running the trap line…

Written by Ian Jensen
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Predators and pests - battle continues
and that includes rats and mice…

Not an exact science – but  getting better.

It never ceases to amaze me a the continuing number of predators/pests that are dispatched on a yearly basis at “The Patch”, a western coastal wetland an dune property, southern North Island where I have lived for 27 years.

For a number of years we did not record the numbers dispatched, albeit with one Tims trap early on we did account for around 35 ferrets over three years.

However in February of 2008, a record was started. To date that list, which is compiled from mainly pests that my dogs find with others like the hares that keen hunters dispatch and me on a wasp run over the summers read like this: 301 hedgehogs, 131 hares, 37 possums, 40 wasp nests, 4 stoats/weasels, 1 ferret and 10 “others” mice, rats etc. I also run five bait stations for rats/mice.

In May 2009, with the appreciated assistance of Greater Wellington Regional Council, a number of DoC 200 traps were provided to me  and other adjacent wetland owners. I have six of the traps here, located mainly around the wetland areas of the property. In the time since they have accounted for an additional 75 hedgehogs, 80 stoats/weasels, with weasels being the predominate catch, 2 ferrets, 46 rats, 15 mice, a grand total since February 2008 of 742 ‘items’.

Of note, we have not found/shot a possum for over three years, albeit recently during an ‘agency’ initiative three were accounted for on a neighbouring property. What we have found though is that after a run of catching mustelids, the rat numbers go up for a bit an lately the hare count has been high, 17 in four weeks and eight on the run sighted on afternoon. We do consider that bird number, particularly pheasants have increased over recent years. With the ducks it is harder to make a comparison as water levels also pay a very important part in their survival due to hawks and pukeko.

For my traps I use the juice from Sardines in spring water. I have a small sealed container kept in the fridge, when I have about three to  four lots combined it is enough to do a round, once every three months is enough. It is easy  to drip into the trap box. I aim for under the  treadle plate or down the side of the box past the treadle plate, no need to open the trap as it can be tilted up.

The lead into the traps is bare, I have found that keeping this sprayed is best, and also the area around the trap as I consider it allows the breeze to whisk the smell away over the wider area. Note the trap with the hedgehog is has been used extensively by blackbirds to crack snail shells on. Snail juice stains the trap top and snail shells litter the surrounds. One negative of this is that activity by the blackbirds sometimes sets the trap off.

While we now trap very few ferrets, one - an albino is in the photo, also had another earlier in the year. I keep the traps located just inside a fenced margin, firstly just far enough in so that inquisitive  stock don’t set it off, but I also consider that the mustelids do run the margins so the traps are located in that zone. I did widen out the mesh openings to the traps from 3 x 3 squares to 4 x 4 as I found we were not catching big hedgehogs – which we do now.

Ian Jensen

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