Date: 19 May 2020
Predator Free Taupō Coordinator Robyn Ellis says the three-year-old community organisation – an offshoot of Greening Taupō – is enjoying strong and growing support in the community.
The organisation has distributed more than 1,000 traps in the past 12 months, and – alongside Project Tongariro and Kids Greening Taupō – is supporting 16 traplines with community volunteers giving more than 2000 volunteer hours to trap.
More than 3,000 pests have been trapped, mostly in Taupō and also further south to Turangi with a number of traps going into backyards. The trapping complements the planting of more than 250,000 plants across the town since Greening Taupō was formed in 2013.
It's a contribution DOC's Central Plateau Operations Manager Dave Lumley says exemplifies how communities can drive conservation in their areas.
"Predator Free Taupō is demonstrating how community groups can really make a difference to conservation in their areas," he says. "The group leads by example and the work co-ordinating trapping matches really well with DOC's predator-free goals. It's fantastic to see Robyn and her colleagues' commitment rubbing off on other residents in our town."
At community planting days, during Conservation Week, Summer Programme events as well as nature days and whio whanau fun days, trap building is one of the most popular activities. Robyn Ellis says she arrives at every event with a trailer load of trap-building supplies and she takes an empty trailer home.
"The backyard trapping is what we've been encouraging in Taupō, and so far it's been great," she says.
Residents who've taken on backyard trapping are encouraged to keep her informed of their progress, whether it's monitoring species, putting in tracking tunnels or reporting back informally on pests they've captured. The information comes in via emails, phone calls and even random text messages from enthusiastic backyard trappers.
"I tell people, 'just get the information back to me somehow, and I'll record it!'."
With the easing COVID-19 alert levels allowing more movement for the town's residents, many people involved in community group pest control can now return to checking traplines.
The fact Taupō is surrounded by beautiful environments and wilderness contributes to people's predator-trapping motivations: "There's the lake, the mountains, the nature walks – and the people here really appreciate that stuff. To be able to bring conservation and nature 'closer to home' is an encouragement, and they're supportive of it."
"We've got real community spirit here, and people are keen to get together as a group. A lot of our work has just been educating people about what they can do in their backyard – even things as simple as what they can plant to bring the bird song back."
Collaborations with organisations like the Department of Conservation, Department of Corrections, Taupō District Council, Kiwibank and Waikato Regional Council help with delivering of resources and information. DOC provides office space for the organisation, and Predator Free Taupō has also been the recipient of the DOC Community Fund grant to support its work.
Find out more about Greening Taupō.