What is it?
RESI launched “Pest-Free Riverlea” in 2017 to undertake community-led pest control in Riverlea. We extend Hamilton City Council’s pest control work in Hammond Park to private properties throughout Riverlea, including businesses in the Riverlea industrial area. RESI received $5000 seed funding from Kiwibank via Predator Free NZ to launch the project and is further supported by funding from the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust.
There is a lot to protect in Riverlea. We host Hamilton’s most diverse forest remnant, Hammond Park. It contains the threatened long-tailed bat, tui, fantail, kereru, eels, glow worms and the rare swamp maire tree. This biodiversity spills over into the rest of Riverlea.
Rats and possums are constant threats. Pests like them stealthily eat an estimated 26 million native forest birds’ eggs and chicks in NZ each year! Encircling Hammond Park with a network of traps protects and boosts the life within it. We need people to play their part. This also strengthens our Riverlea community, making it an even better place to live.
How does it work?
We supply Riverlea residents with heavily subsidised traps and advice on how to use them. We ask that you let us know what you catch and keep the trap baited.
The three main pest animals that eat native birds are rats, possums and mustelids (stoats, ferrets and weasels). Scientists tell us that there are few mustelids in urban environments, so we target rats and possums.
As of July 2019, Riverlea residents held 138 traps through Pest-Free Riverlea.
Rats have a home patch of about 50 m2. So that all of them encounter a trap, we’re aiming to have a rat trap every 50 to 100 metres across all of Riverlea. That would mean around 230 evenly spaced traps will be needed. However, whoever wants one can have one.
We only use traps that have passed animal welfare testing, to ensure that the trapping is as humane as possible.
The cheapest approved rat trap, which we offer for widespread use, is the Victor Professional trap. It needs to be set under a tunnel to exclude pets, birds and children, and to guide the rat in at the correct angle. Community members built these carefully designed tunnels during a building day with generous support from Acorn ITM on Riverlea Road. We provide a trap-and-tunnel set to residents for $5. The traps should be baited with peanut butter or a chocolate spread such as Nutella.
We also offer T-Rex rat traps as alternatives to Victors because they are particularly easy to set and don’t go rusty. They fit into the same tunnels as the Victor traps.
Watch how to set a Victor trap
We also offer the Good Nature A24 rat trap. These kill rats instantly and immediately reset themselves after a kill. We provide these at the heavily subsidised price of $30.
Possums are most likely to occur in properties next to gullies. We encourage gully owners to purchase humane possum traps for their properties. We offer the Trapinator for the subsidised price of $13.50. Residents may also wish to investigate the Good Nature A12 possum traps at the retail price of $219, with an ongoing cost of $40 a year for supplies.
Reporting your trapping success
When you’ve caught a rat or possum, please record your success online at the Urban Rat Project, of which Pest-Free Riverlea is a member. Scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up for reminders and to report your catches (reporting takes less than one minute – it’s incredibly easy!). Or, if you’d prefer, email the date of your catch with details of what you caught to [email protected].
We need to know if our trapping is effective. Therefore, we have placed monitoring tunnels in lines at selected sites around Riverlea. Twice a year we place inky cards in these tunnels along with some peanut butter. The footprints of whatever enters the tunnel are recorded.
Preparing your property to trap
Hungry rats are the ones most likely to be attracted by a trap’s food lure. Stop feeding them: clear away food they might be eating around your property, such as fallen fruit, accessible chicken food or open compost bins.
Securing wire mesh over the air spaces in compost bins is a good way to exclude rodents. Hopper-style chicken feeders exclude rodents and small birds from chicken food; in addition, loose scraps should be thrown to chickens in the morning or in small quantities that they can finish during the day, so there is none left at night for rats.
How Can I Get Involved?
- Contact us — become part of the team of Riverlea residents who are helping bring back more birds and biodiversity.
- Buy a trap through us — our traps come at greatly discounted rates, thanks to our funders.
- Report what you catch — we’ll tell you how when you are up and running with a trap.
There are other ways to become involved, too:
Donate to help pay for traps in Riverlea even if you don’t want one on your property.
Help us monitor pest numbers and also the native birds and bats.
Register your interest by contacting our community conservation coordinator, Gabrielle Woodd, at [email protected] or 027-7734727.
Order a Trap
Pest-Free Riverlea traps are animal-welfare approved, and poison-free. They are much cheaper than a pest-control contractor, and will keep your electrical wiring free of rat damage. They are subsidised and significantly cheaper than retail prices.
Tunnel containing a Victor Professional rat trap or a T-Rex trap — $5
Good Nature A24 self-resetting rat trap — $30 (a discount of nearly $170). Find out more about these at the Goodnature website.
Possum trap — $13.50