The predator control season is about to begin so now is a great time to buy traps and bait and start planning how to run them for the summer.
The standard predator control season (October-March) runs for six months and is designed to target ferrets, stoats, weasels, rats and hedgehogs during the all-important bush-bird breeding season.
Stoats in particular are more trappable during early spring as females are doing bigger distances in search of breeding den sites and males, of course, are also doing big miles in search of females.
The next big peak in stoat captures will come in February/March when all the new juveniles start heading out on their own for the first time.
Mammalian predators have a significant impact on all wildlife, but when successful predator control is undertaken, the increase in birdlife, particularly, can be quite amazing.
If you are one of those readers that have been studiously following my advice this winter and now have your possums, rabbits and rats well under control, adding predator control to your property protection list really will be the icing on the cake and you can look forward to a relatively pest-free summer.
Effectively catching predators is fairly straight forward once you have the traps in place and with traps only requiring checking and re-baiting once every week or so, the labour requirements are minimal when considering the huge benefits.
The traps to use are the DOC series Kill traps (see www.predatortraps.com). While these come in three sizes, the middle size (DOC200) is by far the most commonly used. The big 250 is specifically designed for situations where large numbers of ferrets are present. All DOC series traps come housed in robust timber tunnels and are baffled with mesh to keep out non-target species and pets.
Trap spacing: All predators tend to have incredibly large home ranges (40-256ha). As a good starting point place traps 100-200m apart. On properties up to 10 acres, one to four traps is often all that is required to catch all predators that are passing through.
Trap Placement: Set traps on well-defined linear edges – fence lines, track edges pasture/forest margins, natural intersection features, stream edges and near the chook house are all great starting points. Trapping these features tends to catch more predators and makes traps nice and easy to service.
Baits: Rabbits are often the most prolific food item for our predators so it stands to reason that this is a great bait to use. We also see a lot of predation on both wild bird and chook eggs so these are also a good choice and the DOC standard is a piece of rabbit and a hen’s egg replaced weekly.
Rub the piece of rabbit on natural features leading to the trap and on the trap itself. I supply many of the large trapping operations with rabbit meat processed into chunks of just the right size. For more information see www.coastalpestsolutions.co.nz
Predator trapping can be a lot of fun, but check your traps once a week to avoid having to deal with excessively decayed victims.
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By Ditch Keeling, Coastal Pest Solutions