Six reasons not to start backyard trapping

Department of Conservation —  04/01/2018 — 42 Comments

Predator Free Ranger Kat Lane recently spent time at the NZ Flower and Garden Show chatting with visitors about backyard trapping. Of the over 1,400 visitors, only 9% were trapping pests in their backyard. These were some of the reasons people weren’t backyard trapping:

1. I don’t want traps in my garden in case my chickens or cat get into them by mistake

Most of the traps we recommend for your backyard are designed to keep cats and chickens out. You can put the trap inside a trapping tunnel that only animals like rats and mice can fit into.

Trapping tunnel with small opening in mesh to allow rats and mice to enter.

Trapping tunnel with small opening in mesh to allow rats and mice to enter.

2. I don’t have a big garden, I live in an apartment

Check with your landlord to see if they are doing any pest control around the building that you could help out with. If they aren’t, you could be just the right person to help them get started!

3. I don’t need any traps in my back yard, my cat catches everything

We still encourage home owners to trap in their backyards as well. Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds. This is when rats are most active so it’s wise to have traps in place as well. As an added bonus, keeping them inside at night will stop cats from leaving dead rats and mice on your kitchen floor early in the morning!

Cat. Photo: Jennifer Barnard.

Photo: Jennifer Barnard

4. But my cat doesn’t kill birds, so I don’t need to keep it in at night

Cats mainly hunt on the ground and are capable of killing ground-nesting birds up to the size of adult kiwi and kererū. They have superb hearing and night vision, are extremely mobile and have a large home range (meaning they will roam far from your property). Cats have been responsible for eliminating entire bird species such as the Stephens Island wren and it is not uncommon for cats to consume over 30 lizards in one hunting season. So even if you don’t see your cats bringing home native birds or lizards, it’s safer to keep them indoors during the night when they would ordinarily do the majority of their hunting.

5. I don’t need to trap hedgehogs because they aren’t a pest

Hedgehogs were introduced to New Zealand to control garden pests such as slugs, snails and grass grubs, so some people see hedgehogs as beneficial to have around. Unfortunately, their habitat has not been confined to gardens or their diet to garden pests and they have now become a threat themselves. Today hedgehogs are widespread across the country and pose a significant threat to native wildlife, especially insects and lizards. They also eat eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds, with those in coastal and riverbed locations being particularly vulnerable.

GoodNature self-resetting trap mounted on tree. Photo: Annie Dick.

GoodNature self-resetting trap mounted on tree. Photo: Annie Dick

6. I don’t want to deal with dead stuff

The Goodnature self-resetting traps are a great way to avoid having to remove any dead creatures from traps. The dead rats, stoats or possums are often removed by other predators. Plus, you don’t need to check the traps regularly and can leave them in place to do their thing for months.


You can find out more about how to start backyard trapping on our website.

Also, don’t forget to check out the Predator Free NZ website to see if there’s a local group near you that you can register your traps with.

42 responses to Six reasons not to start backyard trapping

  1. 
    Pauline Robertson 20/01/2018 at 8:04 am

    I feel sorry for whoever is at doc having to read the pro carry and anti 1080 trite.. you are doing your part to help conserve our heritage so keep it up.

    We will look back on these views in the same way we look back on the acclimatisation of pests to nz…utterly stupid.

    • 
      Martin Broadbent 20/01/2018 at 9:12 am

      I can’t believe how your words replicate the very essence of the Nazis wanting to eradicate the Jews Pauline.

    • 
      Diane O'Connor 20/01/2018 at 10:22 am

      As the saying goes “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” I think it is utterly stupid to believe ridiculous sweeping statements without questioning them. If they have nothing to hide then they will respond.

      I am asking for proof and facts and you feel sorry for DOC! Why? If they are speaking from a place of truth surely there should be no hesitation to prove it. They are a Government Department and they need to be able to back up their claims or don’t make them..

      Really keen to see how they accurately conduct a bird count.

  2. 

    Please stop this crazy love cats hate cats stuff it is a waste of time . If you really see yourself as a Kiwi citizen and want to help our endangered remaining native wildlife check out the science that looks at what we have to do to achieve that ………….. watch this link now.
    https://blog.doc.govt.nz/2017/12/21/trail-cam-footage-before-and-after-a-1080-operation/

    • 
      Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 10:04 pm

      Get serious, that’s propaganda for sycophants.

    • 
      Diane O'Connor 19/01/2018 at 11:24 pm

      DOC What independent academic research can you provide to prove that poisoning our environment with 1080 has a positive effect on our environment and our waterways.
      .

    • 
      Diane O'Connor 19/01/2018 at 11:55 pm

      Doc In this article posted by Mark Fort https://blog.doc.govt.nz/2017/12/21/trail-cam-footage-before-and-after-a-1080-operation/
      You state “The stats showed no evidence of reduced bird numbers in the 4-weeks after the aerial 1080 operation. The mohua counts before the aerial 1080 operation suggested a decline in mohua numbers from the year before. By contrast, the count after the aerial 1080 operation was the highest since counts began in 2007.”
      What process do you use to accurately count the birds?
      What stats are you referring that show no evidence of bird decline and how are they captured?

  3. 

    You people must all have very timid cats. My cats (I have had three) but one in particular was a great hunter of birds even during daylight. I have seen her jump in the air and catch a low flying bird that was eating bread of the neighbours lawn.
    I had lost count of the dead things she brought in, mostly birds .
    It is my belief that cats do heaps of damage to the native wild life. I have experienced it first hand.

    • 
      Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 12:36 pm

      This is from the UK but it’s applicable here too:
      No scientific evidence

      Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.

      We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.

      It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.

      Those bird species which have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on heathland.

  4. 
    susan mottram 08/01/2018 at 2:39 pm

    You should remove cats from this, and the forest and bird link. The studies are not valid. This link is though, some might be interested in the latest Landcare Research study, about what is really wrong with our forests, seems its disease not possums. Ever felt like you have been had? I do.
    https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/42000/possum_native_vege.pdf

    Also something from overseas: Published in the Guardian July 2017
    “In the 1950’s the Forest Service found some commercial pine forest damaged by possum. To support a growing conservation industry of aerially poisoning vast tracts of land, possum became a new scapegoat along with deer and rabbits. Further odium was heaped on possum by falsely claiming on the basis of staged photo events, they were a predator. The science that is supposed to support this also reveals its flaw. See http://newzealandecology.org/nzje/2207.pdf. Sweetapple, Fraser, & Knightbridge. Page 19, the Abstract claims: “Native forest bird abundance also declined with increasing length of possum occupation.” In the body of the text at page 29, we find: “these data provide weak support for our a priori hypothesis that native bird numbers would decrease with increasing length of possum occupation.”
    If we then look at bird counts, and take out the highly mobile flocking species such as tui, bell bird and yellow crowned parakeet, bird numbers held or increased with the longer presence of possum. Contrary to NZ propaganda, possum do not have an “unwavering appetite for birds’ eggs.” – Bill Benfield, July, 2017″ From the Guardian July 2017

    • 

      Hi Susan, please see the articles linked in the response below with regards to cats.

      Although not discussed in this blog post (apart from as an example of the species a Goodnature trap targets), possums pose a serious threat to our native birds and invertebrates. They compete for food with birds, depleting vegetation which results in hungry birds who have lower breeding rates as a result. Possums will also eat our native invertebrates. For example, a single possum can eat more than 60 Powelliphanta (our endangered giant carnivorous snails) per night.

      For more information on the impact of possums on our native species, including a list of scientific publications as references, see this page on Pest Detective: http://www.pestdetective.org.nz/culprits/possum/

      • 
        Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 5:55 pm

        Is this respone for me? If so refer to No 3 don’t need any traps in my back yard, my cat catches everything.We still encourage home owners to trap in their backyards as well. Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds.

      • 
        susan mottram 08/01/2018 at 8:00 pm

        Nice Try but I am not buying. You demonised the possum, (presumably (well for a fact for forestry or was for that farmers _ TB and all). Have you seen a possum being beaten to death because it is a possum? I have a video if you would like to see what we are capable of. Do you really think our countrymen can be trusted not to take this to the extreme? I think we are on very dangerous ground. Can I ask about the Weka? You know the ones clubbed to death by Doc, in the name of conservation? When you have a clean agenda then maybe I will take you seriously. Any way where was the reponse to animals not killed in traps only injured. How is a layperson supposed to cope with an injured animal or orphaned offspring. Bucket of water?

      • 
        Diane O'Connor 09/01/2018 at 10:51 am

        You have still not provided research to support your public claim ” Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds’ The page you referred Susan to does not support that statement. It was amusing to see feral cats, who are in the bush ate lobster. Please provide proof or retract it. You are not helping the birds if you don’t have acurrate facts.

      • 
        Martin Broadbent 09/01/2018 at 5:00 pm

        You don’t answer people’s questions very well do you. So are you completely dismissing Susan or are you unable to answer the questions?
        Every time I walk around built up areas I hear more bird song than I ever do than when I visit one of your hiking areas. You would of thought the great numbers of cats would of decimated the bird numbers but they haven’t and don’t tell me all the owners keep them in at night because they don’t. It only seems to be low bird numbers where your disgusting poison is so it’s very obvious you are killing our native birds yourselves. You have a responsibility to keep domestic cats protected from vigilantes because of your insistence of putting them on your precious Predator Free 2050 list. It is only right to withdraw cats from the list and to stop using 1080. Visitors to this country have said recently that this practice of using 1080is Neandrathel, what do you say to this?

      • 

        DOC the website you are quoting Pest Detective is run by the National Pest Control Agencies (NPCA) – so of course they will be putting up false information to kill animals it benefits them. So where is your real research DOC

    • 
      Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 7:17 pm

      Totally agree Susan.

      • 

        Hi Diane,
        We recommend that cats are kept inside at night as this is when their hunting instinct is strongest (as their ancestors were nocturnal animals), and when birds are sitting on their nests (and thus most vulnerable).
        Please see PETA’s website (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for more information about why it is best for cats to be kept indoors: http://www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/caring-animal-companions/caring-cats/indoor-cats/

      • 
        Diane O'Connor 11/01/2018 at 10:06 am

        The following response is not relevant to your statement which is not accurate “Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds” The following has some very good reasons as to why a cat should be kept in but does not confirm your statement. You are a Govt department and need to ensure you can back up your claims. “We recommend that cats are kept inside at night as this is when their hunting instinct is strongest (as their ancestors were nocturnal animals), and when birds are sitting on their nests (and thus most vulnerable). Please see PETA’s website (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for more information about why it is best for cats to be kept indoors: http://www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/caring-animal-companions/caring-cats/indoor-cats/” Please provide research to back up your statement simply saying it is so does not make it accurate” Prove it or retract it.

      • 
        Martin Broadbent 11/01/2018 at 10:16 am

        It’s definitely time they retracted their statement. Too many cats are going missing and badly injured due to this victimisation and it needs stopping before more innocent lives of cats are taken. There seems to be a core hatred at the DoC about cats and personal hostility has no place in a government organisation.

      • 
        Diane O'Connor 12/01/2018 at 2:27 pm

        Well said Martin.

      • 
        Sophia George 21/01/2018 at 9:10 am

        DOC I cannot believe that you are quoting PETA – have a look at this link – https://www.petakillsanimals.com/proof-peta-kills/ Peta is like DOC kills everything….

  5. 
    Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 1:24 pm

    Perhaps you should read this DOC. You are demonize cats unfarily and encite curelty to them based on iffy research There needs to more balance and acurate facts brought to this converstaion. https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/100350713/the-abhorrence-of-killing-in-the-name-of-conservation

    • 
      susan mottram 08/01/2018 at 8:05 pm

      So true Diane, when you use the shonky research to justify the killing of animals. Then on sell it to the masses as legit, the shame of NZ

      • 
        Martin Nicholls 19/01/2018 at 4:27 pm

        You claim that DoC and its supporters are extreme in their views regarding cats and other animal species. Many of us, including myself, have seen first hand what cats and other mammals do and the serious damage they do to our wildlife and its depressing to say the least. But I don’t think you are prepared to listen to us because your views and philosophy are pretty fixed. I have seen local extinctions of skinks and geckos because of cats. For those so-called animal lovers so opposed to killing things (and so hate the use of 1080 poison), consider what it means for our native animal species to be constantly persecuted by cats, ferrets, stoats, rats, possums and other introduced mammals, even hedgehogs and pigs, but then, they don’t matter do they? They are only native birds, reptiles and invertebrates after all. They don’t die quietly (especially from cats) and they have never evolved to cope with the relentless persecution to which they are now subjected. Before humans arrived and brought with them their sentimental attachment to introduced species to satisfy their homesickness, New Zealand had been totally isolated from the influence of flightless placental mammals and snakes for around 85my. This was before the time of the K-T mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs and pterosaurs. To those who think their urban neighbourhoods are full of birdsong, despite high numbers of cats, are these birds native species or are they mynas, blackbirds, thrushes and chaffinches, to name a few? All these have evolved to cope with mammalian predation. How many people can tell the difference between native bird song and that from introduced species, or, for that matter, even care? The distinction is important when defining our national identity through the song of our birds. I live in New Plymouth and, apart from kereru, tui, fantail and grey warbler, the presence of native birds is conspicuous by its absence, despite good forest habitat and climate for them to otherwise thrive. People will seldom if ever hear robin, whitehead, kaka or kakariki in urban areas, except maybe in cities like Wellington where intensive predator control has been carried out (including the frequent use of 1080). And, of course, Zealandia has a lot to do with it with its restoring habitat free of all introduced mammals, except maybe mice. I would say high and unnatural population densities of urban cats is a primary reason for such an absence. Unless we are prepared to create many more fenced eco-sanctuaries in urban areas, the demise of native birds in our neighbourhoods will continue and even accelerate, so I am a backer of many more urban traps, focusing on Good Nature A12 and A24 self-setting traps.

      • 
        Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 4:37 pm

        I think you have answered your own questions, to be able to trap every predator in New Zealand you would have to set one every square metre. This half hearted attempt to cut Predator numbers only makes it worse in the long run. All predators reproduce with space in mind. Fill the space and reproduction goes down and visa versa. It obvious to the rest of the world that 1080 is something to definitely not use. It’s completely poisoning not only birds but their food chain. It seems you’ve ran out of ideas and now you want to pick on cats. You are not an animal lover yourself, you are suffering from speciesism, it’s a terrible mindset to be in.

      • 
        Diane O'Connor 19/01/2018 at 9:31 pm

        As Daniel Patrick Moynihan says “You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts”

  6. 
    Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 1:17 pm

    Where is your research for this DOC. “Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds”. Agree with Martin about 1080. What about the 1000 Wekas you trapped and bludgeoned to death in 2010. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3523562. Aren’t they endangered?

    • 

      Hi Diane, there have been many studies assessing the negative impact of cat populations on native species. For example, this study: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.295.9430&rep=rep1&type=pdf in which scientists conclude that cats have contributed to the extinction of nine of New Zealand’s native species. This University of Otago study found that birds were the most common animal that domestic cats predated on, and that local bird populations couldn’t breed fast enough to keep up with the rate they were being killed by cats: https://www.deepdyve.com/lp/elsevier/do-domestic-cats-impose-an-unsustainable-harvest-on-urban-bird-EEMBi7Afp3

      With regards to the weka, it is always regrettable to have to kill a pest species, but it is also necessary to protect our most vulnerable animals. On the Chatham Islands weka predate on two critically endangered birds – the taiko, one of the world’s rarest seabirds, and the Chatham Islands oystercatcher. Without protection these birds would likely become extinct.

      Please refer to the response we have provided below and the scientific papers we have linked to with regards to 1080.

      • 
        Diane O'Connor 09/01/2018 at 11:32 am

        DOC that research does not support your public statement of “Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds.” It is not an accurate statement provide proof or retract it. The Dunedin study does not in no way represent all cats in NZ. I think it was 0.026 %” of cats. That is what Bob’s Opinion piece is about. Your other research is about feral cats on islands.

        DOC you bludgeoned the Wekas to death and did not even treat them with any respect or compassion. You may have done that for a reason but they are endangered now and you have to take some responsibility for that, you can’t just blame cats.

        I have heard a rumour that the NZ government/ departments have shares in the company that makes 1080, is that true? We are the biggest user of 1080 in the world and it not used at all in a lot of countries. That says a lot.

  7. 

    Any advice on how to deal with rabbits? We are too close to roads and people to shoot them and don’t want to use poison because of dogs and children.

  8. 

    I am interested in getting one or more of the Good Nature traps, but they are quite expensive. If there was some sort of government subsidy then I would be all for putting them up and letting them do their thing

  9. 
    Martin Broadbent 04/01/2018 at 8:20 am

    What a disgusting blog. Once again you have to demonise cats with speculative guesses when the most destructive method to native numbers is the use of 1080. You also pull in hedgehogs going beyond gardens for food but the damage done is 1080.
    When are you going to admit that 1080 is the route cause for the destruction of native birds and to stop blaming everything else in a blind panic ?

    • 

      Nothing speculative on the info on cats and hedgehogs there, only speculation is your factually wrong comment on 1080.

    • 

      Hi Martin,

      We regularly monitor native bird populations after 1080 operations and have found that the benefits of using 1080 to protect birds and their nests from predators like rats, stoats and possums strongly outweigh the low number of deaths for these species. You can find our bird monitoring studies here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/our-work/battle-for-our-birds/battle-for-our-birds-monitoring-results

      Furthermore, Landcare Research scientists collected dead birds after 15 1080 aerial baiting operations from 2003 to 2014. They concluded: “Our results suggest that modern 1080 baiting operations pose only a negligible threat to native forest bird communities and a small threat to individuals, especially relative to the threats they face from the introduced mammals targeted in pest-control operations… Our finding that most of the native dead birds found did not contain 1080 residue highlights the need by observers to avoid automatically attributing native bird deaths following aerial pest control operations to 1080 poisoning. To the contrary, the evidence here of very few native bird deaths directly attributable to 1080 underscores the suitability of this compound for mammalian pest control in New Zealand’s forests.” You can access the study here: http://newzealandecology.org/nzje/3277.pdf

      With regards to cats, Forest and Bird have produced this informative fact sheet detailing the damage cats can do to our native species: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/files/file/CatFactsheet(1).pdf

      You can also find out more about the impact hedgehogs have on our native species here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/pests-and-threats/animal-pests/hedgehogs/

      • 
        Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 5:03 pm

        No scientific evidence

        Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.

        We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.

        It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.

        Those bird species which have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on farmland

        Read more at https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/advice/gardening-for-wildlife/animal-deterrents/cats-and-garden-birds/are-cats-causing-bird-declines/#CKHVvFRxCgAAw1gF.99

      • 

        And have you done research as to what the human species does to the environment

    • 

      Constantly spamming any blog to do with conservation to promote your anti-1080 agenda, very sad.

      Ever been to an area that’s had 1080 use? Alive with bird life. Bet you’re a hunter, as long as you can shoot pigs and deer, the never ending march towards more of our endemic extinctions don’t matter.

      I was anti-1080 and an avid hunter until I saw first hand the positive effect of 1080 use has had. Years and years of tramping and shooting in the Tararuas without seeing a single bird made me realise something has to be done before our birdlife is gone forever. Our forests are silent now and on a long slow march to becoming scrub. If that means 1080, I for one am very happy to give up shooting.

      1080 may have it’s ugly side, but to not use 1080 is a more ugly option, 1080 IS the lesser of 2 evils. Until there is a better way for vast and remote areas, 1080 is better than the never ending destruction of our native birds and bush.

      Take a trip to Kapiti Island, Maungatautari or other such areas. You will realise the use of 1080 has been a god send. Good science supports this also.
      However, science or first hand experience means nothing to people who have their own self serving agendas.

      • 
        Martin Broadbent 09/01/2018 at 5:09 pm

        Yes I’ve been to many areas where poison is used and I’m sorry to say bird numbers are awfully non existent. I walk around Hamilton and hear so much bird song and it’s great. No poison posters, no visible traps, lots of cats and plenty of native birds. No I’m not a hunter and I am 100% Vegan. 1080 must stop and thinking you know everything turned out to be untrue. Too many 1080 sycophants.

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