In many ways, this was a special event. Not only was it the first Forest&Bird trip after a long break partly caused by Covid-19, this time we were not just going for a walk. We had a job to do! Earlier this year, the Forest&Bird Manawatu Branch had purchased 16 of the 31 DOC200 traps needed to set up a new trap line on the Deerford Loop. Ian Rasmussen, a passionate pest control volunteer from RECAP, initiated the idea and pulled all the strings together to make it happen.
This is how 9 keen trappers turned up at Limestone Road end on this sunny Saturday morning. All of us were excited to find the entire landscape white - winter had finally settled in! About half of us had done lots of trapping but never set up a trap line before. There was a surprising amount of logistics to consider, but fortunately Ian had already made a proper plan for the entire mission. 6 pack frames got loaded up with 2 traps each - together with a day pack that made a load of around 20kg to carry. The remaining traps and installation tools were carried separately. We split up into 2 groups to walk the loop in opposite directions and off we went. Just a few minutes in there was a stream to cross, then the track went up the hill. The snow certainly slowed us down, and it took a while until we figured out how to best place our feet in the snow and prevent sliding.
While installing and setting the new traps, we baited and reset the already installed ones (donated by the Ashhurst Engineering and Construction Company) as well. A few of these traps had flattened rats in them - a first score! However, further up the track we also spotted multiple big rats that looked very alive - they seemed not in the slightest intimidated by the traps on our backs...
A party of trampers passed us and stopped for a chat. They were well equipped and were heading right up to the ridge. At the top junction of the loop we had lunch with the other team of our group. All 31 traps were now set! With empty packs we slid back down the steep track, trying not to get distracted by the beautiful scenery. The snow was starting to melt in the warmth of the midday sun...
Note: The Deerford Loop trap line will be serviced regularly by volunteers from RECAP. If you are interested in helping with this task, please get in touch with Forest&Bird Manawatu Branch (Manawatu.Branch@forestandbird.org.nz).
(Text by Jorinna)
Photos: Anthony Behrens, Jorinna Prinz