Korokoro Environmental Group members have joined forces with Greater Wellington Regional Council to monitor pest numbers in the Korokoro valley.
Greater Wellington biodiversity co-ordinator Kim Broad says the latest monitoring has produced some good news. “We have found low levels of rats and mice. Greater Wellington is doing possum control in the area and we have found that rats and mice are eating possum baits.”
He says rats and mice inhibit forest regeneration, so their low numbers are a good sign.
But of more concern is evidence of stoats, plus signs of increasing hedgehog numbers.
While hedgehogs are often seen as relatively harmless, in the bush their presence is not welcomed. “They’re in the forest cleaning up native insects. They’re very efficient predators and can even eat skinks and geckos.”
Mr Broad says hedgehogs are bad because they eat the same food as many native birds. He says Measures to control hedgehog numbers are possible. “They’re not as easy to control as rats but they can be poisoned.”
Nevertheless, he says bird numbers in the Korokoro valley are encouraging, with tui and bellbird being seen and heard frequently. Some unfamiliar species, such as tomtits and whitehead have also been sighted, with Mr Broad saying they may have come from Karori
Sanctuary or Somes/Matiu Island.
He says Greater Wellington uses a network of plastic tunnels with cards and ink pads to count pest numbers. “The tunnels are baited. We recognise species from the prints they leave behind.”
He says help from groups such as KEG are particularly good because pest monitoring can be labour intensive, even though numbers are only taken four times a year.
“It’s hard to find enough people to do it and there’s some pretty steep terrain to go through. But when you get locals involved they get increasingly aware of their environment.”
He says having the council and the community working together looks like a recipe for success in the battle to restore natural ecosystems in the Korokoro valley.
“The Korokoro valley is a special place.”