Pest Free Onetahua’s Project Manager Brian Alder and Operations Manager Murray Wilson have recently put the first lines of tracking tunnels out on Farewell Spit, so we can start gathering data on the relative abundance of predators in different areas of Onetahua.
The tunnels will be in place for a period of about a month for them to weather and for the wildlife to get used to them. Then ink tracking cards are put out overnight and retrieved the next day. Footprints left on the paper give information about what pests are in the area, and can be used to determine how many of them are likely to be present. The process will be repeated every few months so that changes can be tracked through the seasons and over the course of the project.
“It’s a step forward to have the tunnels and cameras out there collecting data. We’ll see the results quickly and feed that information into our trapping models to make sure we are using the best techniques.”
The tracking tunnels are predominantly being used to measure the rat population, with stoats and mice being secondary targets. Pest Free Onetahua also has motion sensor cameras out in the field too, which will help to give a bigger picture about predator behaviour.
Brian said that the deployment of the tunnels will help with the detailed planning for the predator control programmes.