A hunting we will go

Shakespear Regional Park is an Open Sanctuary.  The sanctuary was established in 2010 by the construction of a pest-proof fence across the peninsula, after which all predator species were removed. An extensive and ongoing system of trapping and monitoring is required to ensure that the Sanctuary remains free of pests while allowing open access to visitors. The Auckland region has ten species that are declared pests;  mice, ship rats, Norway rats, weasels, stoats, ferrets, cats, possums, rabbits and hedgehogs.  Although all target pests (except mice) have been removed from the Sanctuary there is a constant risk of re-invasion around the ends of the fence or through the fence due to the open public access.

The fence is complemented by a system of trap-lines and tracking tunnels throughout the Park, all of which have to be checked regularly. This is one of the main activities of the volunteers as well as the Rangers, along with routine checks of the fence.  

On our arrival at Shakespear Park last November, we had the task of putting out and setting the magpie traps.  Magpies (Aussie imports) can be aggressive and commonly attack humans and native birds especially during nesting season and there was a ‘murder of magpies’ – an appropriate collective noun for these birds –  in the Park. We had great success at trapping the birds which we then handed over to the Rangers so that they could deal with them appropriately.   

In the camp,  located between the worm bin and the rubbish bins, there is a ‘Mouse Hut’ where campers can collect a mouse trap or two, a tunnel to place the trap inside to keep out birds, peanut butter for bait and then set up traps around your camp site.  At this time of the year (autumn) the mouse numbers seem to explode.   They are looking for a warm place to hide and what better place than in a campers nice warm tent/caravan/motorhome.  We always have two or three traps permanently set up in hidey holes in our van, not that we have caught any mice in the past year or two, but we have had a visit from the pesky blighters in the past, hence our preparedness. 

 Worm bin, mouse hut and rubbish bins

  Mouse Hut


With this in mind, we (and by ‘we’ I actually mean Roy!!) have set up 6 traps in the bush perimeter at the rear of our camp site, and in the past week numerous mice have ceremoniously been given the last rites!!  The current count is 53 mice over 11 nights.  We also have the magpie trap set so hopefully later today the pesky birds will venture into the trap lured by the cat food!  

Our reputation as pest controllers started last year when we were at Whakapirau at Jacky & Chris’ place when we were put in charge of the possum traps.  Possums are another introduced pests – those Aussies have a lot to answer to!   We proved to be rather successful at eradicating the property of a few of these Aussie imports aka pests.  We shall continue to set and check traps whilst we are here, all part of our volunteering “thing”.  

As an aside, we have been asked on numerous occasions if our position as Camp Hosts is a paid position – the answer is it is definitely NO!  We are volunteers. 


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