Rat traps will be popping up in the backyards of Merivale and Matua next month as local environmental groups begin a push for the Bay of Plenty to become predator free to protect our native birds.
The Predator Free Bay of Plenty campaign is a collaboration between Envirohub Bay of Plenty, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Bay Conservation Alliance.
The campaign follows the work of Kelvin Hastie - a Wellington man whose crusade to rid his Crofton Downs neighbourhood of introduced predators saw it named New Zealand's first predator free suburb in 2015.
With backing from the Next Foundation, Wellington City Council and the Greater Wellington Council, the project went city-wide in 2016.
“They found that if you put a rat trap in one of every five backyards, you can pretty much rid the area of rats, which is what they have successfully done in Wellington,” says Envirohub's general manager Laura Wragg.
The Bay of Plenty project is launching in the suburbs of Matua and Merivale next month.
The wooden boxes for the rat traps have been made by the Men's Shed in the Historic Village, and the Tauranga and Sunrise Rotary Clubs will assemble the traps for distribution.
“Once we've got them installed in Matua and Merivale, we'll be looking for champions in other suburbs to get on board so we can roll it out across the Bay of Plenty,” says Laura.
Groups in Rotorua have already expressed an interest in taking part.
“It's super exciting,” says Laura. “In Wellington, they're already seeing so many more birds there and will soon be able to introduce species that would never have survived before.
“We already have rat-trapping in reserves, but this is a chance to be involved at an urban level. Everybody who gets a trap will use an app to log the location of their trap and how many kills they've had so we can map progress.”
To keep up-to-date on the project follow ‘Predator Free BOP' on Facebook.