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Colourful addition to trap network

Colourful addition to trap network
The Fantail Trust runs more than 400 predator trips along tracks in the Rakaia Gorge. PHOTO SHARON DAVIS

The popular Rakaia Gorge walkway has 30 new colourful traps to help with pest control.

The Fantail Trust, which hopes to create a native bird and plant sanctuary in the Rakaia Gorge, has been trapping in the gorge since 2020.

Trustee Robert Koller said the trust had recently purchased 30 new traps. They were creatively embellished with art work done by children at the nearby Windwhistle School before being placed in the bush.

“They are mainly along the walkway from the lower lookout point for about a kilometre along the walkway.”

Koller said the trust had more than 400 traps in the Rakaia Gorge, including traps for stoats and rats as well as traps for possums.

The traps are cleared once or twice a week.

“So far we have caught over 800 possums, over 1000 rats and nearly 70 stoats. We started off with trapping the possums and for about a year now we have extensively increased our trap network for the rats and stoats.”

When the Guardian spoke to Koller, the freshly decorated traps had already caught three rats.

Koller said this was a good sign because rats normally stayed away from new traps because they smelled too much of humans

“The lure we use is mainly peanut butter but we also put an egg into them - and as an experiment we use old golf balls as well. And it is surprising that the golf balls seem to attract the rats just as much as the eggs,” he said.

Koller and his wife Christine, who is also a trustee, believe there are far more birds around than two years ago.

“There are plenty of bellbirds, fantails and grey warblers that we have noticed in greater numbers. We also see kereru, silvereyes and spotted one pair of tomtits. There are also song thrushes, finches and yellowhammers.”

The trust is partly funded by the Kollers, who run Quickenberry Guesthouse. They also raise funds by selling postcards and metal birds and get funding from the local councils, Environment Canterbury and from Manawa Energy.

By Sharon Davis