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Hiking boots on as locals help to stamp out stoats

Local conservationists will be out in force this weekend, with a workshop on bushcraft set to take place in Raglan Town Hall on Saturday before they head out the next day to set up to 30 traps in native bush on and around Mt Karioi.

It’s a community-led project of pest eradication which aims to protect native plant and bird life, says A Rocha Aotearoa NZ national president and Raglan resident Kristel van Houte who’s running the workshop to coincide with the tail end of Conservation Week.

She’s hoping for a repeat of last year’s success in which 52 stoat traps were set across Mt Karioi’s main tracks from Te Toto Gorge (Karioi track) to Ruapuke Road (Wairere track).
Kristel recalls it was “amazing” to have 50 people traverse the mountain in one day, setting traps to determine the feasibility of establishing stoat control over the entire mountain.
This weekend’s exercise will be a “mini version” of that, she says, with 20 to 30 traps expected to be set.

The long-term aim of the Karioi Biodiversity Restoration Project — run as a partnership between national Christian charity A Rocha, Te Whakaoranga o Karioi, local hapu and the Whaingaroa community — is to eventually be able to reintroduce stoat-vulnerable native species such as kiwi and kaka to the mountain.

Volunteers expected to turn out for the hands-on bushcraft workshop and follow-up trap-setting day are in the most part “really committed” Raglan people, Kristel says, although last year’s exercise also attracted some conservationists from Tauranga and Auckland.

Judging by the interest in this Saturday’s workshop, she adds, more people are “stepping up” and a lunchtime barbecue is planned to acknowledge that support.
It’s a way of building on local enthusiasm with volunteers being trained on the day in bush skills by DOC staff, and people get the chance to be involved in both pest trapping and monthly monitoring of various species’ survival over spring and summer.

The pest control project began three years ago in Upper Wainui Reserve and was expanded in 2010 to include Bryant Memorial Scenic Reserve, specifically to protect native forest birds and seabird nesting sites of the grey-faced petrel or Oi.
Mt Karioi is the only Waikato mountain which hasn’t had an active restoration plan until now.

Edith Symes

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