Kelvin Sewell with the traps he makes for the Predator Free programme

Toward being predator-free

by Ann van Engelen

Kelvin Sewell and Nicci Dillon from Predator Free Kirwee have secured funding through the Selwyn District Council for the supply of rat traps to help the district become predator-free.

“The traps are actually dual purpose as you can catch a weasel by adding a hen’s egg or mustelid bait,” says Nicci.

“Kelvin started out as Kirwee Trappers and worked alongside the late Sharon Kellock with the vision to eliminate rats, stoats and weasels from the district. He makes the traps himself and distributes them around the community. We have been working with the Selwyn District Council and the Sustainable Natural Environment Fund to help with the costs of these.

“At present, our focus is Kirwee township and surrounds, and we hope others will take up the lead for other areas. People across the district can borrow the traps to join forces. There is so much fantastic momentum going on through little groups across the country.

“Kelvin has a knack at catching weasels and caught three locally in the last week. It takes a lot of perseverance as the pests cover a huge area. The traps need to be placed where rats, weasels and stoats move by such as near rabbit trails and pukeko nests. You do not always see them on a regular basis, but they are there.

“Weasels are quite common in rural farmland as they raid birds’ nests and eat both the young and the eggs. They also carry Bovine TB, which is a major threat to our agricultural industry. They have been known to land on the back of a bird and go for a quick flight before killing the bird as prey.”

People who borrow the traps report their catches for the Predator Free 2050 NZ database.

“We had a trade site at the Courtenay Show last year and will have another this year, with information and traps available. Predator Free NZ is about improving the natural biodiversity of the area according to the Selwyn District Council plan and focusses on enhancing the natural biodiversity and encouraging native plants and birds back to our region.”

For more information go to the Predator Free Kirwee Facebook page.