Tēnā koutou Predator Free Russell and Russell Landcare volunteers and wider whānau,

We hope you’ve been having a great summer and have been enjoying the outdoors. It’s certainly been a summer for being out and about, both for us humans and for the predators we’re trying to eradicate from the Russell Peninsula. We continue to get reports of stoats, possums and rats moving about and we thank our community for this information, please keep it coming – community surveillance is crucial in our mission for a predator-free peninsula.

Volunteer Hours

Our volunteer network has also been hard at it. If anyone has done any voluntary hours in January or February and we haven’t been in touch yet, can you please reply here with your hours? This includes time spent predator trapping at your property or business, weeding in the community, doing plantings, environmental monitoring or supporting others to complete any of this work. Capturing this data helps us build a picture of what’s happening in the community and so direct future programs and funding. So please do let us know about what you’ve been up to.

Trap Box Building

Right now we’re cutting lines and installing traps north of Wellington Street and out to the end of Tāpeka. This requires several thousand traps in boxes and we’d like to shout out to the Russell Menz Shed, who have been cutting timber and building boxes most Thursdays throughout the summer (see attached photo). If you’d like to get involved in this kaupapa, please get in touch. We’ll also hold an open trap building day in the near future, so keep your eye on your email if you’d like to be involved.

Some of the Russell Menz Shed members after a good morning of trap box building


Five-Minute Bird Counts

Next week we’re going to be continuing our five-minute bird counts in Tāpeka ahead of our knockdown phase this winter. If you’d like to be involved in this ecological monitoring and learn more about the birds we have locally (and how to identify them by their calls), we’ll be meeting up at our depot (43 Matauwhi Rd, behind the Boat Club carpark) at 9:00am next Thursday 14th March. Don’t worry if you have no experience, we can teach you all you need to know (and you only need to learn eight birds). You just need a good set of ears and be prepared to be in the bush for the morning. We usually finish up by lunch and then get a coffee and a bite to eat. We’d really love to get some more people involved in this so please come along. Unsurprisingly, it’s quite pleasant sitting in silence in the bush and just listening for a bit.

Bird counts in Tāpeka bush with Jeff and Annie


Regular Line Monitoring

We’re also looking for some more volunteers who would be willing to take ownership of one or more trap lines in our elimination zone of Te Wahapu. This involves monthly servicing of traps and bait stations on a variety of lines. We have short, medium and long lines on offer, so we can start you off with as little as an hour per month, or give you a full day or more if that’s what you’re after. We’ll provide all the training and equipment you need. This work is a big help in freeing up our contract trappers to focus on the newer Tāpeka elimination zone, which has a higher intensity of rats and requires more regular servicing. If you want to be involved out in Tāpeka as well we can also make that happen, though this requires a commitment of serving lines every 10 days through winter, rain, hail or shine!

With a mast fruiting year happening for most native trees we’re expecting a lot of predator movement and a busy year ahead. This project wouldn’t be able to happen without the volunteers that we have and your help has made us into one of the leading predator-free projects in Aotearoa (and one of only a few targeting rats). So please, keep getting involved and keep in touch and one day our beautiful peninsula will be entirely predator-free.

The Predator Free Russell team