Rats to get the boot

Bella Russell, 15, with the first rat caught in the newly-installed traps around Lake Te Kō Utu.

Just in time for Conservation Week, Predator Free Cambridge was out and about laying four trap lines around Lake Te Kō Utu last Saturday. With two lines around to the top of the lake’s reserve and two around the bottom, rats will have 45 traps spaced out around the lake to choose from – a move that should ensure they will not be decimating the native birds that nest there in the summer.

Each trap is housed in a wooden box with mesh on either end and a hole for the rat to enter. The traps are baited with peanut butter, which organiser Peter Russell said, “works a treat on rodents.”

The construction of the boxes, which are screwed shut, means the bait and dead rats will be out of the weather and avoids the possibility of curious children or pets being injured by the traps inside.

Peter and his daughter, Bella Russell (15), baked a rat cake for the occasion, which was welcome sustenance for the ten volunteers who turned out to place the boxes and install the traps around the lake.

Predator Free Cambridge kicked off around a year ago, but Peter said it has really taken off in the past six months as more sponsors have got onboard.

The group has also received a grant from the Department of Conservation (DoC) to work with schools and early childhood centres, aiming to get in at the grass-roots level with the younger generation as the country moves towards its predator-free goal of 2050, he added.

Predator Free Cambridge has the goal of one trap in every five backyards across Cambridge, which Peter said is the standard for predator-free organisations nationwide.

The group thanked New World Cambridge for the peanut butter, Bunnings Warehouse New Zealand for spray paint and stencils for marking the boxes and Coffee Club for providing coffee to volunteers after the working bee.

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