Nearly 35,000 rats, weasels, possums and stoats trapped in Wellington as community pitches in

Wellingtonians have trapped nearly 35,000 rats, weasels, possums and stoats, Predator Free Wellington has revealed.

Predator Free Wellington spokeswoman Kylie Reeves said more than 6400 households are trapping predators, or around 10 per cent of homes in the capital, with the latest total from trappers' recordings in the last two to three years reaching 34,900.

Ms Reeves said the majority of predators caught have been rats.

Wellington City Council’s Tim Park said it was astounding that 24,400 predators have been caught in backyards and more than 10,500 predators have been caught in parks and reserves.

"That is more predators caught than the number of seats in Westpac Stadium," he said in a statement.

Mr Park said the council is supporting more than 30 volunteer groups who check a large number of the 2900 council reserve traps.

Joakim Liman, who leads the Te Motu Kairangi Miramar ecological restoration project, said the benefits of trapping in the suburb of Miramar are clear in the number of native animals that have been seen.

"We have kererū nesting here, and native falcon, and we’re hearing morepork," he said.

Wildlife seen in the Wellington suburb of Miramar. Source: Joakim Liman

Predator Free New Zealand Trust spokeswoman Jessi Morgan said the trust does not keep trapping records for predator-free regional organisations, but said Wellington does have the highest number of community programmes in the country and was the first area to focus on backyard trapping.

"I don’t think there’s a single suburb without a community-led programme and that’s spreading into Lower Hutt," she said.

Ms Morgan said neighbourhood programmes were also becoming widespread in Auckland and Christchurch.

Predator Free Lyall Bay, Rongotai and Melrose coordinator Cameron Hayes said a variety of people are trapping in the area.

"A lot of families – kids really enjoy it…" Mr Hayes said. "The Lyall Bay Dads Club is starting to get more involved, but also older people with easier to set traps.

"Bringing down the predator number has a positive impact on the breeding success of our wildlife."

Mr Hayes said the suburb was a significant area for native wildlife, acting as a buffer-zone for the heavily-trapped Miramar, with kaka, kererū, tūī, fantail and little blue penguin living in Lyall Bay.

He said 100 traps are in place, with the group raising money for more traps and now investigating long-term funding opportunities.

Locals wanting to begin trapping can get advice from the group, with the possibility coordinators may be able to help with checking and resetting traps, he said.

"Just sing out, come and talk to us," he said. 

"Some people are concerned about pets but we don’t use poisons - we provide traps that are in a box."

Predator Free Lyall Bay, Rongotai and Melrose recently held a trap painting event. Source: Cameron Hayes

Wellington City Council has launched an online survey to find out who in the capital is trapping and people’s thoughts on the Predator Free Wellington project.

"Understanding people's hopes and concerns about the project will inform how the project is managed in the future," Mr Park said.

Councillor Andy Foster, the council’s Predator Free Wellington portfolio lead, said becoming predator-free is the next major target in Wellington’s environment restoration.

He said planning, research and community events will now take place to help achieve the goal of eradicating rats, stoats and weasels from the possum-free Miramar Peninsula.

Eradicating predators from Wellington City is part of the council’s long-term strategy.

The Government has an ambitious target for New Zealand to have no possums, rats and stoats by 2050.

Nearly 35,000 predators have been trapped in Wellington in the last three years. Source: Wellington City Council