Pest-Free Riverlea!

What is it?

Riverlea is an abundant and healthy place for birds, bats and people to enjoy. We aspire to make it a pest-free community. There is a lot to protect. At its centre is Hammond Park, which is Hamilton’s most diverse forest remnant. It contains pekapeka the long-tailed bat, ruru (morepork), tūī, fantail, kererū, eels, glowworms and the rare swamp maire (maire tawake) tree. This biodiversity spills over into the rest of Riverlea and beyond.

What we do

Some residents in the area monitor traps on their own land, and volunteers carry out pest control in Hammond Park. In the park, the volunteer team bait and monitor traps for possums and rats. Because this part of Hamilton is home to native bats that are at a critical risk of extinction, Hamilton City Council funds professional pest control where our group and others are not actively working, using traps that target stoats.
Possums and rats are regular visitors, but we try to make sure they don’t stay around for long.

Why we do it

  • Low possum numbers keep the forest abundantly healthy as there are more fruit and leaves, and more nests that make it through the breeding season.
  • Low rat numbers mean more birds, especially the little ones that rats prey on, such as fantails and grey warbler. It means more ruru because there are more mice and insects for ruru to catch (rats eat these creatures, too).
  • Long-tailed bats are also helped by pest control because rats scurry up trees and eat the bats as they roost in old trees. Hammond Park hosts an important population of these bats – it’s one of the best places in the country to see them.

Pest-Free Riverlea was launched in 2017 and we refreshed our efforts recently, with lots of support from the Central Waikato Predator Free Hub and Hamilton City Council.

The bigger picture

Hammond Park is part of a patchwork of connected community groups in this part of Waikato. If you use the Te Awa River Ride heading south from Hamilton Gardens, you will see some of the work done by neighbouring groups around Tamahere and the Mangaonua Stream. Their work reduces the migration of pests into Riverlea from surrounding countryside.

Biodiversity and bat habitat is the reason Hamilton City Council supports our local area on both sides of the Waikato River, including a big community effort in Sandford Park in Glenview (Mangakotukutuku gully group).

Help out with Pest-Free Riverlea

We welcome more volunteers to assist. One way to help is to join the trapping roster. We have various options depending on the time you have available, with plenty of training and support. We use traps that are simple and safe to rebait. We keep records of what we do and our results. Our Hammond Park trapping group is on, a free service used throughout New Zealand for recording trap, bait, monitoring and biodiversity outcome data.

The project would receive a particular boost with a volunteer who wants to re-start our backyard trapping initiative. That involves coordinating a pest-free project, engaging residents to become involved, and seeking funding so we can do even more.

Please get in touch if either of these roles sound like you.

Email [email protected]