And the answer is…
What are the primary targets of this program?
We are mainly expecting to trap
- rats (and there are plenty of them to begin with),
- possums (yes they are all over the hill though not in high numbers)
- perhaps the odd weasel/ferret.
Will you catch, hurt or poison my cat?
This program will not be targeting cats. We realise cats are a very emotive issue and until they prove to be the primary issue in terms of habitat and wildlife threats we won’t be focused on them at all.
We know some people set cat traps (not kill traps) which are live capture and this leaves the opportunity to identify a domestic cat. Personally I support this, but this program won’t be assisting these activities in any way.
If you have an issue with someone trapping cats please respect that this is not a result of this programme and address your concerns to the appropriate body.
What changes can we expect to see?
Well that is the most difficult thing for us to answer as it is dependent on many factors, the biggest one being how many people support it actively and ‘in kind’.
We know there are many of the target predators throughout the hill area, so many that in fact we don’t plan to try and officially establish the current population.
I will be trying to get one or more of the schools involved in doing some tracking tunnels at regular intervals within the program so we can try and establish a baseline and progress for those animals ‘on the land’.
Amongst the types of things noted in other regions:
- More active birdlife (more of it)
- Different birds – We know we have Wood Pigeon, Fantails, Tui, Bellbirds and Morepork on the hill and a Kaka has been spotted previously. I’m sure I saw a Kakariki a few weeks back as well – initially we may start to see more of these and then with luck new species coming in. I intend to set up an informal place on the website to register sighting’s, but don’t intend for this to be any sort of official ‘bird watchers’ record of activity.
- It is also likely we will see more seabirds choosing to nest/roost on the hill as the habitat improves and becomes safer for them. We have some unique populations already adjacent to the Port (Little Blue Penguins and Black backed gulls).
- Fruit around your trees that you haven’t seen before – more walnuts, figs and avocado’s, and unfortunately more Fejoa’s! In fact any fruiting tree. Possums even eat lemons!
- More skinks/gecko’s and, yes, Wetas. There are a lot more of these on the Hill than most seem to realise. There is plenty of suitable habitat but unfortunately a lot of this is occupied by the predators we are targeting. A recent block cleared near my home had, reportedly, 100’s of rats emerge from it.
Will we get Kiwi?
Kiwi would need to be introduced but more particularly an awful lot more things than just the target predators on this list would need to be changed – without a specially designated/protected area, Kiwi are probably a pipe-dream (though one I support 100%).
What about Rabbits?
You only need to look at the scat on the grass area of Bluff hill to guess how many of these there are around. Despite what rabbits can do to young trees, they are not a threat to any of our species – maybe they even keep the feral cats fed!! These are not targeted at all.
What about weeds?
Well, we certainly have them everywhere on Napier Hill and as unfortunate as that is, it is not part of this program. I am however happy to talk to anyone about this issue as I think it is appalling the lack of concern people show about weeds on the hill, and within the bigger lense of biodiversity this problem will eventually be addressed.
What about hedgehogs?
Yes, hedgehogs are likely to be one of the few by-catch/kill. They are scavengers, eat birds eggs and are full of diseases. I know some people like to have them around but they are neither native nor endemic, so we do not intend to make any special effort to protect them.
What about those Pesky Argentine ants?
While we acknowledge these are having an impact they are not our primary target at stage one. We will however seek advice on how these can be dealt with and eventually post that on this website.
Sorry, no can do.
To the contrary we are hoping we can get 100% support from a broad range of Politicians in the Hawke’s Bay and beyond.
Will it work?
There is sufficient evidence from various offshore, onshore and community based projects to show that targeted predator control done in controlled and coordinated manner is highly effective.
Of course we expect a few bumps along the way, but we are very confident that this can be done.
What does need to be borne in mind however is that it will be ‘for a lifetime’ and more, but the most intensive part will be the first few years.