Ryman Village Residents Conservation Success Story

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A group of Charles Upham Retirement Village residents is helping ramp up South Island high country pest eradication programme to help protect roroa/great-spotted kiwi, whio and other native birds and fauna.

Lynn Andrews and fellow village residents have already had conservation success with the pest trap housings they’ve built for use in the wild. The team has helped get rid of introduced species (pests) from Medbury Scientific Reserve in North Canterbury near the Hurunui River.

Now their wooden traps are being laid out in a trap-line on the south side of the Nina Valley area, in the high country where North Canterbury meets the West Coast.

They’ve created wooden trapping tunnels to help control rats, stoats, hedgehogs and other predators, in a plan created with partners including the Department of Conservation (DOC). Quite a few hedgehogs have been caught at Medbury, Lynn says.

Lynn and the team have just built a second set of wooden tunnels to house metal traps. A total of 44 tunnel-trap sets were recently handed over by Lynn to a conservation enthusiast George Moran, who transported them into the Nina Valley. George and his wife Celia transported the traps by road to State Highway 7 past Hanmer, then linked up with a helicopter to get them into the south side of the valley.

Both George and Lynn are keen to acknowledge the help and funding they’ve received. George is quick to thank Ryman Healthcare for providing funding for the wood, nails and screws for all of the traps being built at the village, with Kaiapoi ITM (a building supplies specialist) helping with timber. Retailer Macpac has helped with the purchase of hardware including trap mechanisms and stainless steel baffles.

George and Celia are part of a self-named group of ‘Doubtless Conservation’ volunteers and friends. “The name harks back to the name of a hut which was the first place that Celia and I first started our volunteer work on. Incidentally, the Doubtless Hut is in the valley adjacent to the Nina valley - so in one sense we haven't (moved) very far.” A team of 10 have been working this past weekend, including spreading the traps around the conservation area on Saturday and Sunday (May 16-17).

“The reason we are concentrating on this area is that it helps extend the fantastic work undertaken by the Nina Valley Restoration Group at Hurunui College. Over the last ten years this group has undertaken extensive trapping and monitoring work in this valley, which enabled 16 roroa/great-spotted kiwi to be released into here from Arthur’s Pass around 10 years ago,” said George Moran.

There are currently seven community groups working with DOC to run extensive trapping and monitoring programmes on Lewis Pass and Lake Sumner public conservation areas with the plan for all the groups to work together to control predators to protect native fauna.

Rangiora-based DOC community ranger Sarah Ensor said the Department had been involved to varying degrees helping oversee both the Medbury Reserve and Nina Valley projects. This includes ensuring that all community groups undertaking volunteer work on public conservation land have a community Agreement with DOC for health and safety and public liability insurance.

Lynn Andrews said when he and other volunteers, including residents Ross Stewart, Murray Giles, Lindsay Rowe and Kevin Hurley, helped build the wooden tunnels they were built especially for the Nina Valley to DOC specifications. In particular, these included modifications to the standard DOC-200 traps to protect them from inquisitive kea pulling the traps apart, and changing the trap’s entrance to prevent weka from getting into the traps.

George Moran said he and other members of Doubtless Conservation would be going up to the Nina Valley to service the two trap lines they have set up every four weeks.