A thriving rat population along Onerahi’s Beach Road foreshore is to become the area of focus for a joint community predator control project, with support from residents being sought to ensure its success.
For a number of years, trappers from the island’s restoration project, ‘Friends of Matakohe-Limestone Island (FOMLI)’ have been trapping the Onerahi foreshore area to reduce the risk of unwanted invaders reaching the motu (island).
At the same time, conservation project Tiakina Whangārei has been supporting local residents to get involved in backyard predator control by supplying rat traps and advice, as well as coordinated projects in public areas. ‘Predator Free Onerahi’ was launched last year, with the goal of Onerahi becoming Whangārei’s first predator free suburb.
Tiakina Whangārei Manager Dai Morgan says recent surveying showed high numbers of rats living in the rock walls along Beach Road, between the Pah Road roundabout and the Onerahi Yacht Club.
“Our detection devices showed a strong rat population in the area, which is of real concern to Matakohe-Limestone Island, as well as the local community, as families often spend time in this area with young children, swimming and having picnics. It’s not nice to think there are so many rats nearby when children are playing at the beach.”
Matakohe-Limestone Island is home to a kiwi creche, where young kiwi are able to grow healthy and strong before being returned to the mainland as adults. The island is also home to a growing variety of threatened native fauna that has been gradually reintroduced, including banded rail, New Zealand dotterel, moko skink and forest gecko. To date, volunteers have also planted over 155,000 trees on the island.
Michelle Martin says Matakohe-Limestone Island is within swimming distance of mainland pests, which can threaten these precious species.
“Despite efforts from FOMLI volunteers over a number of years, the Beach Road waterfront has been a problematic area to trap rodents. We are hoping that with the support of local residents, Tiakina Whangārei and the Whangārei District Council, we can work towards the placement of fixed pest control boxes around the rock walls to permanently reduce the rat population. This will help to protect our taonga on the island, such as kiwis, skinks, geckos, native bird species and plants.”
Dai Morgan believes support from local residents is the key ingredient in the project.
“We’d love to hear from anyone who is keen to get involved. and we’ll also be keeping the community informed of our plans via our Tiakina Whangārei Facebook page and using letterbox drops. We hope people will see the benefits and be keen to help, both the local community and our special neighbours living over at Matakohe-Limestone Island. Those interested can email me at onerahi@tiakinawhangārei.co.nz.”