In February, we brought you the story of Waikato RiverCare’s first use of a biocontrol agent (Tradescantia Beetle) at a project to combat the invasive and hard to kill weed Wandering Willie (Tradescantia fluminensis). With the support of Waikato River Authority funding, Waikato RiverCare has started another project first: pest animal control at an oxbow restoration project.
Brook and Connor Landon, owners of land adjacent to one of the project sites, are keen to start trapping to see what's lurking around the pond and trees.
The Waikato River Authority funded oxbow projects include two sites on the Mangawara Stream located on Waikato Regional Council administered scheme lands. Both projects have already received their first round of weed control focusing on key weed species known to impact the health and success of new plantings. A dry autumn and excellent ground conditions have allowed contractors to give both projects the best possible start. Additional weed control and fencing are planned later in the year once winter flood waters recede. Project planting at the sites is expected to take place in August 2017.
The impacts of pest animals on native vegetation are well known, particularly grazing animals like possum, wild goats and hares. Less well known are the benefits to plantings in controlling rats, mice, hedgehogs and mustelids. These animals are known to consume seeds, invertebrates and birds, which are all vital to the health and long-term sustainability of the planting. Following advice from the Department of Conservation Waikato RiverCare has purchased boxed double set Doc200 stainless steel traps which are specifically designed to kill the target pests while being safe to use in public areas, around young children, livestock and pets.
Reductions in animal pest numbers around the project should encourage birds to use the site with nesting cover and berry trees included in the planting plan. One of the leading benefits of increased bird use of the project is seed dispersal and the transfer of local plant genetics within the district.
Waikato RiverCare is extremely grateful to Waikato River Authority for their support of the mahi being done along the Waikato River and its catchments. A lot of Waikato RiverCare projects would not be possible without their support.