What does the project involve?
Our project area encompasses 30,000 ha and an estimated 70,000 households. It stretches around from Miramar Peninsula, across to the south-west corner of Mākara and up to a boundary that follows the SH1 motorway through to the border with Porirua City. Building on the fantastic work of community trapping groups across the city, we will move sequentially through 5 consecutive phases based on a remove and protect model, we seek permissions from households, businesses and landowners to overlay an intensive elimination network of elimination devices, in order to get predator populations to zero.
How will we know when the city is predator free?
We’ve broken the project area down into 5 phases, and based on a remove and protect model, we are declaring a phase as ‘predator free’ before moving onto the next one, so far Phase 1 (Miramar Peninsula) is complete and we are now underway in Phase 2. Moving into a new phase provides another layer of defence for the predator free status of the previous phase. We will use a suite of measuring and monitoring tools such as a dense camera network and predator detection dog to declare a phase predator free. A ‘predator free’ phase then moves into an ongoing biosecurity phase where we rely on our remaining network and the community to be our eyes and ears on the ground for cases of incursion – Miramar Peninsula (Phase 1) is now in biosecurity mode having eliminated predators in Novemeber 2023.. You can read about the threat of re-incurring rats here.
What's the difference between Predator Free 2050, Predator Free New Zealand Trust & Predator Free Wellington?
Predator Free 2050 Ltd is responsible for directing a significant amount of Crown investment into the Predator Free Programme, with a focus on breakthrough science and large scale predator control and elimination initiatives. The board of Predator Free 2050 Ltd currently supports 18 largescale landscape elimination projects around the country (of which we are one).
The Predator Free NZ Trust is an independent organisation established in 2013. It’s vision is to connect and energise the nation towards a predator free New Zealand. It aims to do this through engaging and supporting individuals and community groups by helping them access the information and expertise they need. The Trust runs the Kiwibank Predator Free Community programme which supports communities to take on the predator free challenge and help everyday New Zealanders take action in their backyard.
Predator Free Wellington will work alongside both of these organisations, with the aim of taking a community-led approach to being the first predator free city in New Zealand.
What is the difference between predator free community groups and the Predator Free Wellington project?
Community trapping groups provide free traps for people to use in their backyards. There is one for every suburb (or a group of neighbouring suburbs) across Wellington. They are independent and run by volunteers.
Predator Free Wellington (PFW) is the organisation that works alongside these groups carrying out the formal elimination. This involves overlaying an intensive network of traps, bait stations and monitoring devices across the project area, taking a phase by phase approach. Devices installed as part of the formal elimination are free and fully serviced by the Predator Free Wellington team.
Becoming predator free is a team effort, community trapping is vital for getting rat populations to a suppression level and once the formal elimination is underway, every trap counts and could catch the last rat. Ki te kāpuia e kore e whati - we succeed together! To read more about his partnership, click here.
Will eliminating predators have any negative flow on effects on the environment?
Our unique environment evolved in New Zealand for millions of years without introduced predators. The reality is that we don’t anticipate negative flow on effects but we don’t have all of the answers yet as this has never been done before. On Miramar Peninsula where we have successfully eliminated predators, we are seeing incredibly positive results for native wildlife and have a comprehensive monitoring framework in place to measure ecosystem changes over time.
Are you targeting cats?
No, our elimination is focused on rats, possums, stoats and weasels to align with the wider Predator Free 2050 initiative. We encourage residents to be responsible pet owners, this means keeping cats at home where they are happiest and safest (especially overnight), so that our native wildlife can be happy and safe too. To learn more about being a responsible cat owner, there are some helpful pointers on the Wellington City Council website here.
What about everything else (hedgehogs, mice, pest weeds etc)?
Our elimination is focused on rats, possums and mustelids as these are said to have the greatest impact on native biodiversity and it also ensures we are aligning with the wider Predator Free 2050 initiative.
How can I contribute or donate to the project?
There are so many ways you can get involved – join one of our community trapping groups (to set and monitor a trap in your own backyard or local reserve) or volunteer with us as a community ranger. See our support us page for more information.
What methods are you using?
The method we are using was developed and refined over three years on the Miramar Peninsula to successfully eliminate weasels, stoats, Norway rats and ship rats.
Predator Free Wellington is part of the wider New Zealand Predator Free 2050 goal. We are developing the blueprint for urban eliminations in New Zealand and as part of this, new tools and techniques are being developed, tried and tested all the time. Our baseline elimination network involves bait stations on a 50m x 50m grid and traps on a 100m x 100m grid across our active operational areas. This is based on the necessary density of devices to cover and access all rat home ranges and is the minimum density required. We will overlay this network with habitat information, and in some areas the network may be at a far greater intensity, for example, where there is weedy cape ivy which is a known rat habitat.
It’s important to note this is not a poison drop. Bait will be carefully placed in secured bait stations and serviced regularly. For devices on private property, the placement of devices will take into account your privacy and any specific requirements.
How humane are the methods used?
We have to act now in order to save our precious taonga, species that exist no where else in the world and are under severe threat of extinction. The traps we use to do this meet the NAWAC (National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee) standards. We also chose brodifacoum as our preferred bait, it will be secured in bait stations and it is the safest poison for pets as there is an antidote available using Vitamin K. One of the motivators for conducting a predator elimination as opposed to ongoing predator control and suppression, is to prevent the long-term use of toxins and its associated costs.
Is it safe for my pet/kids?
The traps are protected by a wooden box and are designed to prevent pet and child access.
The bait will be carefully placed in secured bait stations that will be out of reach for pets and/or young children.
The method has been safely used on the Miramar Peninsula for the past three years, involving thousands of households, businesses and schools, to successfully eliminate weasels, stoats, Norway rats and ship rats.
In the very unlikely event that you think your pet may be ill from eating poisoned rats or bait, there is an effective antidote available using Vitamin K which can be administered by a vet.
Will it cost us anything to be involved?
No, signing up your property to host a trap or bait station as part of our elimination network is entirely free!
Do I need to do anything?
No, the trap or bait station we install on your property as part of our elimination network is fully serviced by our team.
How often will you check the devices on my property?
You can expect the trap or bait station on your property to be checked regularly by our team, however, the frequency does vary depending on our operational progress.
How long will the devices be there for?
The devices on your property will be there for as long as we are operationally active in your phase. On Miramar, this has been since June 2019 but for following phases it will likely be anywhere from 12 to 18 months as we refine our processes. Some devices will need to remain in place on a longer term basis as part of a remaining biosecurity network which prevents incursions into a ‘predator free’ area in the future.
Where on the property will the device go?
In consultation with each resident, our team will decide on the best location for the traps and bait stations. Placement is conducted with the utmost respect for your privacy and specific requirements.
We already have a trap, why do we need a bait station or trap from Predator Free Wellington?
To get the rat numbers to zero, the PFW team needs to place and service bait stations on a 50m x 50m grid and traps on 100m x 100m grid across the project area, as this density ensures that a rat comes across one of these devices within its home range. Before installing this network of devices, the PFW team will ask for permission to place a device on your property and check it regularly, and this free service is conducted with the utmost respect for your privacy and safety. If you already have a trap, please keep using this in addition to the PFW traps and bait stations, as it only strengthens the elimination network – every trap counts.