Archives For Traps

To celebrate Whio Awareness Month, Auckland Zoo held two Whio family fun days last weekend at the new whio enclosure. Communications & Engagement Advisor Robyn Orchard recounts the ‘whiotastic weekend’:

Raising awareness of whio and their importance to our environment was the objective of the whio family fun weekend at the Auckland Zoo at the weekend. And as Captain Whio, Andy Glaser, would say it was ‘whiotastic’!

Andy Glaser and his team before the zoo opened for the day.

Captain Whio (Andy Glaser) and his team before the zoo opened for the day

Over 7,000 people came through the Auckland Zoo gates over the weekend and my guess is that more than half of these came to see the new whio enclosure, take part in the Blue Duck Race, get their faces painted, talk to DOC and Genesis Energy staff, and get their photo taken in front of the giant $10 note whio billboard (check out the good looking DOC models above).

The weekend kicked off early Friday morning with the official unveiling of the new exhibit material in the enclosure. For me and my Genesis Energy colleague, Jenny Burke, it was an early start to get everything ready for the guests. At 6.30 am it’s still dark and a little spooky at the zoo; there are some weird noises with all those animals waking. I am sure I heard the lion or tiger roaring for breakfast – I was just praying that they were still well locked up.

Emily shows children how traps help to protect whio.

Emily showing some of the children how the DOC 200s work

Daylight was peeking through when the guests arrived at the new whio enclosure. The enclosure’s whio information was a collaboration between Auckland Zoo, Genesis Energy, and DOC. Jonathan Wilcken, Director at Auckland Zoo, welcomed more than 50 guests to the zoo for the breakfast launch. He thanked Genesis and DOC for working with the zoo staff in getting the whio information ready for opening.

Ali helps children colour in whio images at Auckland Zoo.

Ali explains the whio colours to some of the colouring kids

DOC Director General Al Morrison spoke about the importance of building on the partnerships DOC have with Genesis and extending the relationship DOC has with the zoo. He said that with Genesis Energy’s commitment, DOC’s expertise and Auckland Zoo’s engagement we would be able to spread the whio message far and wide.

High fives at the end of the rubber duck race.

High fives all round at the end of the whio race

The first 500 people visiting the zoo on both Saturday and Sunday received numbered blue duck ticket for the 11.30 am blue duck race. By 10 am, on both days, the blue duck tickets had been given out.

Captain Whio and his ranger team are used to getting wet when catching whio in the wild so they all donned gumboots and rubber gloves and took to the stream that ran through the zoo. Two of the rangers had the job of tipping the 500 rubber blue ducks off the bridge and into the stream when Captain Whio and the crowd completed the countdown.

The blue (rubber) ducks race at Auckland Zoo.

Racing the blue ducks are off and Mithuna is hurrying the stragglers along

The whio family fun weekend at Auckland Zoo was an awesome experience and an amazing opportunity to get the whio message out. One of the highlights for me had to be on Sunday morning when I went to get breakfast before the zoo opened, walking up to the café I was met by four zoo keepers taking the cheetahs out for their morning walk.

There are many New Zealanders who will most likely never get the chance to see a whio in the wild. But here in the new whio enclosure, the zoo has brought the High Country to Auckland, making it possible for thousands of people each week to learn about the whio and see them close-up.

By Jane Dobson, Wellington-Hawkes Bay Conservancy

Fresh to the Wellington-Hawkes Bay Conservancy, I heard about the Oroua Blue Duck Protection Project in the Ruahines and an inspired volunteer team led by Janet Wilson. Needing to know more I contacted Janet and invited myself along on the January trap line check and rebait.

Oroua volunteers getting ready to head off.

Oroua volunteers with coordinator extraordinaire Janet Wilson: Jen James, Janet, myself, Henry Milne and Thierry Stokkermans

Janet arranged to meet us all at the Oroua River car park with equipment, advice and a refresh on DOC 200 traps. As beacons, maps, eggs and rabbit bait were split between packs, Janet told us about the previous weeks training where a man ‘just blanked’ and let his free hand slip and set off a trap. “That’s never happened before, he was lucky to get away with grazed knuckles. “Have fun and look after each other up there,” Janet looked at me. Apparently matching people with similar fitness levels is one of her many challenges.

Jen the Crossfit trainer, Henry the anaesthetist, and team leader/ mechanical engineer Thierry set off with me in tow. We planned to get to Iron Gate, split into teams to reach the Ngamoku Ridge tops and Triangle Hut, return to Iron Gate, then walk out the river line on Sunday. I reassured myself that I was fitter than I looked – for ‘a lady from the Wellington office.’ They’d been warned.

Olearia colensoi, leatherwood, below the Ngamoko tops

Olearia colensoi, leatherwood, below the Ngamoko tops.

Jen and I headed up the ridge. The thought of an evening swim in the Oroua’s emerald pools propelled us from trap to trap. Before long we had an efficient leapfrog system. The beech trees, lime green crown ferns, glorious leatherwood and tussock covered tops made up for any squeamish moments with the stoat and rat carcasses. I even imagined rabbit ‘jerkey’ could be tempting if you were in a tight spot.

Thierry and Henry walked upriver spotting several trout AND a whio/blue duck perched on top of a DOC 200 trap in the river, with three young ducks nearby. Was this cheeky whio mocking the stoats from its macabre pedestal, or alerting Henry and Thierry to the missing trap.

The girls didn’t see any whio but were rewarded nonetheless with Guiness at dinner (fantastic leadership Thierry) and choice bombs on Sunday. The low river, blue sky and cool and clear  river made for a stunning walk out.

Total count: 13 stoats, 13 rats. 

January 2013, Team Oroua in action.

January 2013, Team Oroua in action

Meanwhile, Janet spent her Sunday checking the self-resetting traps up the Tunupo Stream, a tributary of the Oroua. In May 2012 volunteers helped install 37 of these new A24 traps made by NZ company Good Nature. They were bought with funding from the He Tini Trust and Horizons Regional Council. These traps don’t need to be checked as regularly as DOC 200’s, but need re-gassing every six months or so. A down side is there is no clear pest count – the dead critter tends to breakdown or disappear from under the trap.

Jen James baiting for high-altitude stoats.

Jen James baiting for high-altitude stoats

Due to Janet’s nightly phone calls, training trips, constant advocacy and more, the project’s volunteer base is ‘committed and developing.’ Enthusiastic people are needed to prevent the situation the Manawatu Deerstalkers found themselves facing in 2011 with the same few people doing all the work. The coordination takes ‘AGES,’ Janet told me. ‘The Palmerston North tramping club is a great help, Manawatu Deerstalkers still help, the DOC newsletter Keep Tracking On advertises for volunteers. I also put notices in the huts with tear off numbers. We’ve got a committed but developing volunteer base. I’m investing in the training weekends, hoping it will pay off.’

Whio enjoying the view from a washed out trap.

Whio enjoying the view from a washed out trap

Janet won the 2012 Individual Manawatū Rangitīkei area Conservation Award, which recognised her on-going commitment to protecting wildlife through stoat control in the Te Potae o Awarua project, the Manawatu Gorge, and for rescuing the Oroua Blue Duck Protection Project from folding in 2011.

You’re an inspiration Janet Wilson – volunteer coordinator extraordinaire.

Click here to find out how to get involved.

Evidence of an ‘A24’ trap kill up Tunupo Stream.

Evidence of an ‘A24’ trap kill up Tunupo Stream