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November 2021 Issue
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Walking and trapping

Kathy checks a DOC200 in Ōtari Wilton’s Bush. Photo: Andrew Watson

One way to boost your monthly tally of kilometres walked is to find a purpose – like checking traplines. Kathy Ombler shares what it’s like.

Each month I walk about 20km, monitoring local trap lines. This is paltry compared with what some people do. Still, I live in the city and it’s great to play a small part in protecting Wellington’s special biodiversity.

The birdlife around my Wilton home is incredible. Twenty years ago, we’d see magpies and maybe a tūī, while possums hammered the fruit trees. Now kākā, kererū, tūī, pīwakawaka, riroriro and ruru are always around. Korimako and kākāriki sometimes visit, and kārearea have attacked the neighbour’s doves. Zealandia, just up the road, and increased predator control in neighbouring reserves, have combined to achieve this remarkable turnaround. Predator Free Wellington is gaining huge momentum.

I help on three lines. The first is in Ōtari Wilton’s Bush, a 100ha forest reserve and internationally regarded native botanic garden.

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Our group is called RAMBO (Rats and Mustelids Blitzing Ōtari). It was one of the first community predator control groups here. Two of us, Charles and me, share the ‘KB’ line of 15 DOC200 traps. It’s a grunty little circuit, 5km up and down, a good workout. Over 10 years we’ve caught rats, hedgehogs, stoats, weasels and even a little rabbit.

RAMBO also shares monitoring of a possum trapline along the Skyline Ridge, behind the city’s western suburbs. On a good day, the view from the Skyline, which is popular with walkers and mountain bikers, takes in the city and harbour, Tararua, Remutaka and Kaikōura ranges. It can blow a gale up there, too.

We look after 21 Timms possum traps on the section above Ōtari. This entails a 7km walk (or ride), including climbing up from the valley. It’s never a hardship.

Recently I’ve chipped in to help on a small trap line on Te Ahumairangi Hill, part of the town belt behind Parliament, to protect two tītipounamu that left Zealandia and settled there. From home, it’s a 4km round trip including a short sharp hill; must be good for me!

Sometimes I join a friend on his much longer, much steeper trap line in Remutaka Forest Park. There are kiwi there to protect, and it’s a genuine workout.

Aside from the exercise benefit, doing this trap work is a no brainer. It’s never lonely, I’m often joined by friends, neighbours or family, my grandkids too, budding conservationists that they are. There’s such huge community interest and buy-in now to care for what we have in Wellington.

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