Taranaki Daily News: Te Henui walkway rats


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Stuff National News/Taranaki Daily News  http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3206189a7693,00.html

Tempting tidbits used as lures in walkway rat and stoat traps

04 March 2005

Sweet-toothed rats are being lured into traps along the Te Henui walkway with white chocolate buttons.

Peanut butter and chicken eggs are also the menu and it is hoped the tasty treats will attract hungry rodents.

The traps are part of a new pest control programme targeting rats and stoats.

The New Plymouth District Council initiative is aimed at protecting native wildlife in the area from predators.

Last week, Oecologico Ltd installed about 90 trap-boxes, one every 50m along the walkway.

Oecologico's Cees Bevers said eggs and chicks of native birds such as tui, wood pigeons and fantails were at continual threat from introduced predators. He said research showed pest control was linked to the nesting success of the birds.

NPDC landscapes manager Paul Jamieson said the traps would be regularly checked.

He said rats would be attracted to the traps and they would in turn be a magnet for stoats.

The Department of Conservation had carried out research on what baits worked, he said.

"Rats like chocolate and the white buttons show up more at night."

Mr Jamieson did not know if stoats were chocolate fans.

"I know they like eggs and rats."

Most of the traps, which are staked to the ground, are hidden from view.

They carry warning labels and are designed to prevent children, domestic cats and dogs reaching the trap tunnel.

"Extra wire has been put across the traps to stop dogs putting their paws in."

The traps are numbered and their sites recorded using a global positioning satellite.

Mr Jamieson said bait stations had been in all the district's reserves since 1994, which had helped control possum populations.

That meant more resources were now available to focus on reducing stoat numbers.

He said the pest control programme would be extended to New Plymouth's foreshore and the Huatoki walkway if it proved successful.

NPDC Parkscape manager Chris Connolly said rubbish being dumped in New Plymouth reserves encouraged rat infestations.

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