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ORC grants boost community pest control efforts

Media Release - 20 October 2016

A volunteer effort in the Makarora Valley adjacent to the Haast Pass Highway near Wanaka to help control predators which threaten native birds has received a $23,395 boost from the Otago Regional Council’s Environmental Enhancement Fund.

The money has gone to the Central Otago-Lakes branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Society, which has a trapping programme planned to coincide with the Department of Conservation (DoC) Battle for Our Birds programme in Mount Aspiring National Park.

ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker said the funding covers rat/stoat traps and accessories, possum traps, possum mesh cage traps, DoC traps and boxes, tree mounts, and rodent detector cards.

The branch said in its application it has been “actively pursuing” predator control activities in the Makarora area for the past 20 years, and was at a stage where it could expand its predator control programme relatively quickly using its existing volunteers.

These additional resources will tie in with DoC’s current pest control activity in Mount Aspiring National Park and the Makarora catchment which is part of the Battle for our Birds initiative, targeting rats, stoats, and possums.

The branch said its volunteers will focus on braided river systems as these are priority ecosystems and habitats for a range of flora and fauna, including several endangered bird species.

Meanwhile, the Wakatipu Islands Reforestation Trust has received $3816 from the fund to help maintain the Pig and Pigeon Islands, reserves gifted by the Crown during Queen Victoria’s reign in 1884 for use and enjoyment by the people of Queenstown.

The islands are free from introduced animals such as rats, mice, possums, stoats, and weasels; however stoats have occasionally made the swim from the lake shore.

The trust does weed control, track maintenance, and hut maintenance on the islands and the ORC grant will allow it to buy various replacement tools and implements to continue this work.

Mr Bodeker said the fund continued to attract innovative proposals from community organisations to enhance Otago’s biodiversity. However, he said grants from the fund were for capital items and were not designed to fund operations.

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