The News Central Otago interviewed me recently

The News, Central Otago interviewed me a couple of weeks ago because of this web site initiative. The paper and article will hit the streets today apparently. I’m wondering how it’ll present!

Simon the interviewer steered me into aspects of my history in a very professional manner. Then sooner rather than later, since the web site was born of the experience, my more recent Matukituki Trust involvement was the subject I warmed to.

The noticeable decline of birds in the valley, kea especially, over the last 20 years was the background.

Reversing this has come about due to significant efforts from the Dept. of Conservation and the huge volunteer effort that has gone into the project with over 5500 hours already. Not to mention a truck load of money!

The morning chorus is now a reality up the valley – more birds of several critical species abound, and it’s something that has been a wonderful recent aspect of my 18 months up there over the last 3 years, and now we expect to see even more improvements.

The latest strategy has been the installation of the Hells Gate Virtual Trap Barrier which with the assistance of 9 volunteers was completed 4 weeks ago .

Hells Gate – where the West Matukituki gets squeezed by the ongoing uplift of the Southern Alps due to plate tectonics
Matukituki Hells gate

Mt Aspiring Station landowners, Randall and Alison Aspinall had generously agreed to the Trust installing a tight grid of traps between the bluffs and the Otago Boys High School Lodge, to prevent animals migrating up the valley. Otago Boys High School students have expressed an interest in being involved in the project, which is great too.

106 traps of various types were installed to form a barrier at the entrance to the Matukituki Valley [Hells Gates, is just upstream from Cameron Flat – see photos]. Aim being to stop the movement of predators up the valley – cut them off at the neck, being an entry way to Mt Aspiring National Park, so to speak!

The view up the valley…
Matukituki Hells gate

With Predator Free NZ 2050 looking to support large landscape predator projects, the Matukituki Valley [Trust)] is well positioned to be part of much larger projects too.

This is very much work in progress though – with massive scope/potential
Lastly, in the season ending May 2017, we’ve recorded 780 kills, including 95 stoats, 117 possums and 130 rats. For the first time we have encountered a number of cats, with 12 caught.

Below are some more photos of the area…
Matukituki Hells gate

Matukituki Hells gate

Matukituki Hells gate

Matukituki Hells gate

Matukituki Hells gate

Fatal attraction: ferret stench to fight pests


A stoat killed by 1080 in Mt Aspiring National Park two years ago ~ photo

New Zealand’s imported predator the stoat, is quite an amazing animal, somewhat beautiful too, until you look at it’s claws and teeth!

They have a very fast metabolism, thus needing constant snacks, and they don’t live to a ripe old age. Most stoats [less than about 20 percent] live less than one year, but adult mortality is lower and a few may reach 6-8 years of age. We’ve found that in winter their coat turns white in snowy environments.


In summer they’re more the colour in the photos, and they can travel vast distances, even in water, and often kill for no good reason. Young females are impregnated by their fathers too, and can with-hold birthing until optimum conditions prevail.

In other words, stoats seem born to kill. Imported into New Zealand many years ago to control rabbits, it’s turned out native birds and invertebrates make for easier meals, and this is why this research below is a real break through in our attempts to rid the country of this pest…

When it comes to trapping our bird-killing pest predators, a little bit of potent ferret stench could be the missing ingredient. That’s according to a quirky experiment on a remote Hawke’s Bay farm…

Read more at the source, a NZ Herald article >>

Miramar first scene for predator free capital | NZNews | Newshub

The Wellington suburb of Miramar is the country’s movie capital, but it’ll soon have a starring role in the city’s aim to be predator-free.

An ambitious plan to make Wellington the first predator-free capital in the world has been launched by Wellington City Council, the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and the Next Foundation.

It follows on from the Government’s lofty target of having the whole country without predators by 2050, thereby allowing native birds and lizards to thrive. How NZ’s pest cull will change the ecosystemMiramar Peninsula will be the first act, with a plan being developed to eradicate rats and stoats which will then extend to the rest of the city.

The plot doesn’t include cats and dogs however, with residents expected to be the supporting cast as responsible pet owners.

Source: Miramar first scene for predator free capital | NZNews | Newshub