Enhancing the Halo
Enhancing the Halo is a Morgan Foundation initiative to encourage communities to make their gardens and backyards safe havens for native wildlife. Halo Households are provided with cheap and safe predator traps and training on how to manage them. There are also other options for enthusiasts, such as monitoring predator "chew cards".
In Glenside, which is a semi rural community beside the streams, we are keen to manage backyard pests such as possums, river rats, field mice, stoats, hedgehogs, feral cats, rabbits and hares and magpies.
How it began
The idea for Glenside to become part of the Enhancing the Halo project was put forward by local resident (and project ambassador) Donna Sherlock on April 30, 2014. Donna was already running a pest management strategy on her own block of rural land.
Donna is a past Chair of Forest and Bird (Wellington) and past coordinator for the Kiwi Conservation club (Wellington and Kapiti Mana). She has professional experience in social marketing and environmental education and was ideally placed to lead Glenside into the world of Halo.
Donna prepared a proposal for Glenside to co-ordinate an integrated pest management program over public and private land, in partnership with Enhancing the Halo.
The first volunteer to step forward was Allan Brown, a rural landowner, and former professional 'possum trapper. He was soon followed by local resident Barry Ellis, rural landowner, Real Estate practitioner and President of the Johnsonville Rugby Club.
Barry Blackett, the secretary of the local Glenside Residents Association Inc. provides the much needed auditing and communicating.
On the 12 August 2014 Glenside was officially accepted by the Enhancing the Halo panel to be a predator free community.
Since the project was introduced about 35 people have become actively involved.
How it works
Glenside has been provided a $5000 grant to purchase traps and will operate the pest programme for three years initially.
Residents are encouraged to undertake bird counts as a baseline measure before any pest destruction begins. There is the option of a five minute bird count or the more rigorous 60 minute bird count managed through the Landcare Bird Survey.
A couple of community get-togethers were held to get folks familiar with the gear and various options. Angus, the Department of Conservation Pest Control Officer helps advise on these.
Here are some of the options:
Bird surveys are carried out at the beginning of the trapping programme by as many households as possible and again maybe every four or six months from now on to see how the bird population is responding to the programme. An identification leaflet and instructions on how to do this come with the starter pack.
Chew Cards and Starter Pack with instructions.
Essentially you should find a place in the garden where you think rats in particular might frequent and pin the card a bit above ground level as per the instructions and leave for a week. The cards are gathered up and provided to the Department of Conservation to examine.
Trapping the Pests
Traps purchased through the programme are being distributed to households throughout the Glenside Halo Zone with emphasis on rural and streamside properties. All households that are keen will receive a trap. Residents with their own traps are also encouraged to use them as a contribution to the programme.
The two main types of traps residents will receive are:
Victor traps (for rats), and Timms Traps (for possums). A few specialised traps are also being purchased including DOC200 traps for stoats, Trapinator traps also for possums in bush and forest locations, and Good Nature traps for rats and possums.
The Good Nature traps are something quite new and effective with the capability of catching multiple pests. They are manufactured in Kilbirnie for the world market, so this is going to be of special interest.
Allan will use the three types of specialised traps for trapping along the hillside trails and in the bush and forest zones.
Poison bait can also be used and can be effective in the more remote locations but can be a problem for pets so it is not planned to use bait stations at this stage.
Reporting our Results
This is a community project so we want everyone with a trap to report their catches. The data gained will be used with Halo and DOC to determine the effectiveness of the programme to render a suburb pest free through community participation.
What about pets?
Great care is being taken to avoid harm to our pets. Victor traps are fitted with entry points that are too small for cats to enter. Possum traps will not catch cats provided meat is not used as bait.
Announcing the grant
"Glenside secured the $5000 because Gareth and Nick loved our community spirit and well organised planned approach," 'said 'possum trapper and organiser Allan Brown.
Here's what Nick Tansley had to say when the Grant was announced.
"Hi everyone, Firstly thank you for your wonderful efforts through this project so far. It has generated lots of interest to Enhancing the Halo and we look forward to working on this initiative immensely.
"We have decided to give two grants of $5000. Firstly to Kelvin representing Crofton Downs for winning the public vote and also to Allan representing Glenside residents.
"Both Crofton Downs and Glenside provided detailed trapping plans and outlined their intentions throughout the voting weeks. This showed us just how keen and passionate these two Wellington communities were to take on our challenge....you put so much time and effort into making Wellington the Natural Capital and our team appreciates that hugely.
Please keep me up to date with all that you are doing.
Cheers Nick Tansley
Enhancing the Halo