By Michelle Crouchley, Community Ranger in Te Anau
One man, one mission, one amazing milestone.
Evan started working at Lake Mackenzie Hut in 2002. As he returned each season, he noticed the number of native birds along the track starting to dwindle.
Evan had a good idea of what was causing this. He’d noticed an increase of stoats in the area. He had even seen them running along the track with birds in their mouths.
At this point, Evan could have sat back and thought that it was someone else’s problem to fix – but he decided to take action instead.
He also began using his nightly hut talk to teach trampers about the problem introduced predators pose for native species, even offering the less squeamish trampers the chance to view his latest kill.
His passion and commitment soon bore unexpected fruit as a group of trampers offered to buy a trap to add to Evan’s network.
Expecting to receive an occasional donation, Evan was taken aback by the hordes of trampers eagerly donating to protect the native birds along the track.
Johan Verhagen walked the Routeburn Track with his family and said that Evan’s hut talk was a highlight of their trip.
“Evan’s passion and dedication toward the Routeburn Trap Project was quite apparent, and this passion was certainly contagious amongst the trampers in the hut that night. We were all so inspired, after listening to Evan’s presentation”.
Now, four years on, Evan has had over 2,000 trampers contribute to the project. His trapping network extends approximately 20 kilometres, from the Harris Saddle to the Divide, and is set to join up with a trapping network on the other side of the Harris Saddle, supported by Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy and the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust.
This will also link in with a trap line along the Hollyford Road managed by **** Shefford, from the Hollyford Museum Charitable Trust.
Evan’s vision of “giving the birds that belong here a chance” is now becoming a reality. What started as a line of 8 traps has become part of a network that extends the length of the Routeburn Track.
He hopes, as a result of this project, the children and grandchildren of Routeburn trampers will be able to enjoy spotting more native birds when they walk the track.