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  • Writer's pictureJulie Wolbers

Ribbonwood Retreat Restoring Nature

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

"Stoat!” Jo calls. With a whoop and a holler, an entry is made in the TrapNZ database on my cellphone. This clever trapping app works without mobile coverage, is GPS enabled and is a vital tool for managing New Zealand’s vast network of traps. I joined Jo for a photo opportunity. Making my way further down the track, I contemplate if the birdsong is louder than when we first began our task of restoring nature.

A Conservationist Setting A Rat And Stoat Trap In South Westland West Coast

While we get a great sense of satisfaction with each predator we eliminate, I don’t want my reader to think that I am glorifying death in the name of environmental care. It is factual that the destruction and havoc pests such as stoats play in New Zealand's forests, is unprecedented. One kill can equate to numerous birds, insects and invertebrates being able to live on.

Conservationist In West Coast New Zealand Setting A Rat Stoat  Trap

Restoring Nature With Our Own Wildlife Conservation Initiative

The target for Ribbonwood Retreat with our own trapping initiative, are rats and stoats. The spread of rats throughout New Zealand has had a devastating impact on our native species. This is because, many birds are ground dwellers, often living near wetlands or in damp lowland bush, introduced predators such as rats and stoats threaten these animals living, roosting or nesting near the ground. They consume birds’ eggs and nestlings, native insects and lizards and without human intervention, would lead to the decline and eventual extinction of our native wildlife.

Jo From Ribbonwood Retreat Teaching Guests How A Rat And Stoat Trap Works

Rat and Stoat Traps

In each trap, we place peanut butter as a bait to attract the pests beside an egg which is the visual lure. Eventually, after a successful trap, I clear the rat from the trap, flicking it into the bushes - but sometimes we leave the rats near the trap to attract more prey. Some rats are partially eaten before we remove them and on the next trap check we discover a stoat has been caught, returning to finish its meal and paying the supreme price!

Julie From Ribbonwood Retreat Checking A Stoat Trap In Glacier Country

The traps we use are DOC 200 traps which are sturdy and lethal, the most humane trap for the speed in which it kills. On my first trap, I grab my drill, unscrew the screw and apprehensively lift the lid. Although I have checked hundreds of traps, it is still exciting. Funnily enough, catching no pests in the traps also feels like a reward, a positive sign as well, indicating there are fewer pests around.

Humane DOC 200 Stoat Trap

We are privileged to have the support of the Franz Josef Glacier Department of Conservation and ZIP Zero Invasive Predators ​on this project.

Our involvement as part of Project Early Bird inspired us to start our own trapping program.

We are also proud to be a founding partner of the Ōkārito Plant Project, an initiative set up to protect and nurture the natural environment in South Westland.

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