Environment – Springing into trap mode

Spring is a time to look forward, and feel that surge of hope as the weather warms up, watch for signs of rebirth, fluffy chicks, lambs, and flower buds bursting open. 

Humans’ relationship with the living things that share this planet has always been hugely complex. Whatever your religious, scientific, or other beliefs, since the moment we appeared on Earth, our highly developed brains and adaptable bodies have had an irreversible effect on the creatures around us. We have bent nature to our will, attempting to control and tame it to suit our needs. But nature always fights back and often wins.

The conservation story in NZ is unique. Untouched by humans for millions of years, and the last large land mass to be inhabited, this is a place where 70 percent of species are found nowhere else. But we tried to change Aotearoa to make it more convenient, or to make it more like Europe. Now we are urgently trying to put things right by working to remove all the unwelcome predators released here. 

We can’t always see the devastation caused by pest animals, which is a challenge. It happens in the forest, under the cover of darkness. When a swan gets run over, a starving penguin washes up on the beach or a tūī flies into the window – when we see suffering, we all rush to help, and express our concern for the poor creature.

However we forget that human-induced tragedy could happen every night this spring. If we don’t control the rats, tiny fantail chicks could be attacked in their nests. If we don’t remove stoats, that kererū you watched feasting on berries, or that kiwi you saw on camera at Shakespear could lose this season’s only chick. 

If it was in our faces, would more people realise how urgent it is to stop this biodiversity crisis, which sees 4000 species under threat? 

Choosing to set a trap and kill a rat can take some getting used to, but for me it is clear. I just can’t let our forests fall silent, can you?

I know that when we join together we can make a difference. This spring you will see more flowers on the pōhutukawa, more berries on the pūriri being feasted on by the kererū – and maybe more macadamias on your tree. Why? Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, we have significantly reduced the numbers of possums. Can you help by hosting a possum trap? We are looking for people to set one of our humane tested, pet-safe traps in their backyard. 

Want to protect native wildlife but can’t set a trap or have nowhere to put it? Join Hibiscus Coast Forest & Bird, (www.forestandbird.org.nz/support-us/join-forest-bird) or visit GiveaTrap.org.nz and donate a trap to Pest Free Hibiscus Coast Project.