Wednesday September 27, 2017
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“Ring of steel” protects Kapiti’s native wildlife
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Dr John Hay with a “state of the art” predator trap By Glenise Dreaver After three years of hard work, a “Ring of Steel” now helps protect native wildlife and plants from predators on a large area of the Kapiti Coast. Dr John Hay, chairperson of the Kapiti Coast Biodiversity Group, says that since their volunteers have installed over a hundred Good Nature state-of-the art predator traps round and through 2000 hectares of often wild terrain, thousands of rats, stoats, weasels, ferrets and mice have been caught. The steep gullies make trap monitoring difficult, so ground-breaking technology is being installed. “Smart traps” with electronic sensors send signals to cell phones when triggered. However cellphone reception, especially from deep gullies, is also an issue so a new and ingenious system has been designed with Aeroplane Island, off Kapiti Island, a vital link. The Paekakariki firm of Ground Truth is supporting the group’s work by installing, for free, the $6000 transmitter on the island which receives and sends the traps’ messages on to Kapiti and then to designated cellphones. “It’s great technology with international
potential and our link is available to any other interested groups in the area,” said Dr Hay. The group is working on a second application for funding. They received $300,000 three years ago and to continue they need the same amount again. However, despite their ground-breaking project, there is now fierce competition from similar projects nationwide, he said. Yet despite their success, they face a new challenge. He says the building of the expressway and wetlands regeneration along it has brought an unexpected spin-off in the form of a giant strain of ferrets. “We’ve always trapped weasels and stoats and a few ferrets. Now these huge predators seem to be marching unimpeded through the new thoroughfare.” The Biodiversity Group is a cluster of five local trusts working together. They are the Kapiti section of the Forest and Bird society, Nga Manu, which covers the northern area, the Friends of QE Park, the Guardians of the former Land Corp property Whareroa Farm and Nga Uru Ora, which covers the escarpment from Paekakariki to Pukerua.
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Independent Herald 27-09-17