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Predators targeted before bringing birds in

Predators targeted before bringing birds in
Methven Lions John Corbett and Mac McElwain next to the vacant council reserve they hope to transform into a sanctuary for native birds. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

Predators of birds must be first tackled before building a Canterbury nature sanctuary, a Methven Lions spokesperson says.

Mac McElwain is leading the Lions' Methven birdsong initiative, which aims to bring back birdsong to the area by turning some vacant council reserve land into a native sanctuary.

“If you plan to establish a habitat you have to protect it.

“The second you start a bird-friendly habitat, the predators will be equally aware of it and be sitting there waiting for lunch to arrive.”

The plan is to first start removing the predators from the equation while they work towards a plan and permission for the reserve in Methven.

“It’s two separate things that have a huge amount of overlap.”

Establishing a trap library will be the project’s first step to help locals trap pests and predators in their backyards.

That plan got a $10,000 boost from the Methven Community Board last week.

The trapping library is estimated to cost $46,850 to purchase or build a range of traps that are then borrowed by locals to begin eradicating pests - including rats, possums, hedgehogs, stoats, weasels, ferrets and feral cats.

Trapping technology has developed considerably in recent years, McElwain said.

Some traps were now able to detect if a micro-chipped domestic cat was inside, and not go off, with feral cats being the target, he said.

Microchipping cats is not mandatory in the Ashburton District, and the council has yet to consider this option.

With the pest control plan underway, the Methven birdsong initiative is seeking the go-ahead for the other aspect of the plan to establish the sanctuary at its preferred location.

Chairperson Kelvin Holmes said the Methven Community Board is supportive of the birdsong initiative and their plans for the reserve but it’s a process.

“We have started the process with the council to go through things like the land use and occupancy,” Holmes said.

The unused council reserve they have their sights set on is a grass paddock with only the historic RDR pipe shed in the middle.

It backs onto the Garden of Harmony which is an area of council reserve already planted as a community space.

By Jonathan Leask