Never a dull moment to be had on the Peninsula. Our team has begun our mammoth possum elimination programme, but let’s not forget we also need to keep the pedal to the metal over at Kaitōrete. So how is everything going?

Extended Wildside

The team is full noise into setting up and servicing the significant number of bait stations in and around the Ōnuku area. Prior to the toxin operation, the team had put out cameras to give us a baseline of the activity in the area, and this means that someone has some fun, inside, sifting through a large number of photos on those really inclement days! To be fair, it could be worse, at least we have software to take out most of the wavy grass shots.

Picture: This is an example of what we might see pre-treatment, and hoping for a whole lot of nothing post-treatment.

But now, it’s the hard graft of bring out bait stations to site, installing them and making them attractive to our possum foes. Possums love a bit of flashy advertising as they are quite curious with new things in their hood. A big, old handful of pristine-white blaze (flour/icing sugar mix) leads them, like strip lighting to your nearest exit, to some tasty morsels in a handy container. And we are conscious that the discerning possum would like an easy path to get up to the “food with a view”, so sometimes this means that we need create a ramp to ease their way. The mahi continues with marking of the location on GPS, topping up the bait stations and making sure every station abides by our health and safety rules. Not to mention our wonderful GIS guru who then spends time in the backend of it all to ensure the information is captured correctly (her emails can sometimes be timestamped to stupid-o’clock as a result).

Picture: Installing these bait stations is a laborious task, then followed by filling the station, GPSing it and making it bright and pretty for their possum target!

Not to mention the work coming up including conservation dogs and legholds (for possums, not the dogs), which will serve to help mop up stragglers or bait shy individuals. More camera detection work (and more rainy day photo sorting). The list feels endless sometimes.

That’s not all (a term you’ll become familiar with as the programme progresses). We have our fabulous Landowner Liaison officer visiting our generous landowners with information about the work of the programme, how we can work with them to achieve a pest free Peninsula, updates on progress on their land and other community engagements. And our MUSCAT coordinator holding the line with mustelids, feral cats and hedgehogs on the Wildside. Or our hardcore planning team that is the glue that holds the programme together. This is NOT an exhaustive list.

Picture: Landowner engagement is super important. Pictured are Hollie (PFBP Landowner Liaison), Wim Sliep (Landwoner) and Alex (PFBP Team Member)

So, not as straight forward as it might have seemed, right? So much work goes into this part of the operation that the path forward might seem daunting, but the team are really passionate about the purpose of this work, that they find a way, day in and day out, to ensure that we nail this. Because our community and biodiversity are 110% worth it.


Just because we have a huge amount of human power going into the Wildside work, this doesn’t mean that we can ease up on the massive elimination work on the wind-swept grounds of Kaitōrete. These traps are slowing rolling forward, covering more ground to the east. The daily routine consists of checking the webserver for traps that have been set off, followed by a visit to those traps to humanely dispatch the pest caught in them and servicing anything that looks like it needs it. Our new Rewild traps are working well, and we are looking to add more into our intensive network shortly.

Picture: Rewild Trap being set up in the field. This is the inside of the trap.

This isn’t the full story either. As well as maintaining the traps that have been set off, we still need to periodically replace out lure, check on and service kill traps that are not remote monitored and still keep this behemoth network moving across the landscape.

It’s all hands on deck. However, only to the point that all this work can be managed safely. Sometimes we find we are short-staffed due to COVID (again), holidays and staff vacancies, which puts pressure on the timetable. If we get a little behind our timeline in the toxin work, that’s actually ok – as long as we are being safe and accurate, in this instance the tortoise will still win the race. Kaitōrete is working well to schedule with holidays covered to check the live capture traps.

So, when you’re tucking into your Christmas dinner and celebrating shaking off 2022 and slide comfortably into 2023 – raise a glass to the dedicated (and might I add, incredible) PFBP team still working to get Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū/Banks Peninsula, pest free.


Picture: Sarah (PFBP Project Lead will also be working over the Christmas and New Year period so her team can get a bit of a holiday break - FTR This is what a super hero looks like!