As we are preparing our team with training and get all the necessary paperwork completed to begin serious control and eventual elimination of possums on the Wildside, PFBP is putting Karin Bos to work (but she’ll be the first person to tell you, this isn’t work for her, it’s her lifestyle) ensuring that some of our other pest species are dealt with in the meantime. Introducing the MUSCAT programme.

Photo: Karin Bos doing what she does best - literally anything outside! (Credit: Karin Bos)

The MUSCAT programme, an amalgamation of the words mustelid and feral cat, is designed to help landowners control mustelids and feral cats on their own property with  training and traps supplied by PFBP. It uses a combination of BT200’s (similar to the more well-known DOC200) and Poditraps to get on top of mustelids and feral cats respectively. Both are easy to use kill traps, designed to humanely and quickly euthanise their target pest, and the landowners are taught how to place them and use them to keep non-target animals safe.

Photo: Poditrap with a "feral cat" chimney. (Credit: Jess Helps)

Mustelids, made up of ferrets, stoats, and weasels, are wily and ferocious predators. They can easily kill animals larger than themselves and are a serious threat to almost all native animal biodiversity as they eat birds, eggs, invertebrates, and lizards. Being great climbers and hunters, our taonga doesn’t stand much of a chance under their onslaught.

Feral cats are a significant problem also. They are dangerous to household pets, carriers of toxoplasmosis (which is a harmful parasite with significant negative consequences for pregnant ewes, people – especially pregnant or immune-compromised, and Hector’s dolphins) and are also responsible for the decline of many threatened species across Banks Peninsula and the rest of the country.

So, what does this programme look like in practice? Rural landowners between Akaroa Heads and Okains Bay (the area identified as Phase I of the Pest Free Banks Peninsula rollout) can get in contact with us, by phone or email. We send Karin out to have a conversation with you. She will look to determine what are the best traps for your area, where might be a good place to situate it that takes into account the pest’s natural behaviour while making sure the wrong things don’t interact with the trap, she will look at the ease in which the landowner can get to the trap and finally how to maintain them. Maintaining the traps is vital for the safety of the landowner and to ensure you’re going to continue to make that trap enticing for the predator.

Photo: Karin getting to work on installing a BT200 (Credit: Karin Bos)

We will return with traps that the landowner can borrow, and PFBP supplies the lure, advise, support and the traps. Or if the landowner would like more traps, we can show them how to increase their network and where to purchase the additional traps. We will not provide traps until we are satisfied the landowner is happy with the trap placement and we’re happy that they know how to service them. The landowners commitment is to service the traps approximately once a month and to record their catches. That’s it! Simple, right?

Not all of the traps are on private land. Some are on public land, as trapping loops, being serviced by volunteers. (Takamatua, Le Bons Bay, Curry-Purple Peak). Volunteers have also put them out around the harbour and near Akaroa. Others are on big farms in Ōtanerito, Pohatu and Okains Bay.

Photo: Got to remember to GPS where they go, otherwise you lose them! (Credit: Karin Bos)

We are looking to roll-out the programme to more landowners in the coming years as we start to intensify our own pest free programme on the Wildside and around the Akaroa township. We see this programme complementing our efforts and sits well with other programmes like the recently complete Akaroa Area School trapping pulse and our soon to begin possum elimination programme. Pest Free Banks Peninsula is not just one programme, but a suite of responses to help save our biodiversity and improve the Peninsula’s economic outlook.

If you think you fit the bill for MUSCAT, contact Karin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 021-2530068 for a quick chat, or if you would like more information on this programme or the PFBP project itself, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We also recommend the Akaroa Trap Library (also run by the fantastic Karin) if you have other trapping needs or questions about installing other predator control.

This programme really embodies everything that the whole PFBP stands for. This is a social project where it is run by the people, for the people. It will take the whole community coming together to reach our lofty pest free goals, and it is becoming apparent that the community is ready for it. We have over 230 traps installed so far and we are keen to see more go out fight the good fight.

Photo: And sometimes the view is worth the effort! (Credit: Karin Bos)