LocalMatters       

New pest free champion

Posted at 2:00pm Tuesday 06 Aug, 2019

Birdlife on the Hibiscus Coast has a new champion, with the recent appointment of Jenny Hanwell as coordinator for the Pest Free Hibiscus Coast project.

A love of the outdoors and experience working on community-led conservation projects made Jenny an ideal candidate for the part time position, which is funded by Auckland Council and supported by Forest & Bird.

The Gulf Harbour resident, who has a Masters in Ecology and the Environment, took up the role two weeks ago and is already passionate and knowledgeable about the project.

Five and a half years ago, Hibiscus Coast Forest & Bird began creating choke points of bait stations and traps across Whangaparaoa Peninsula, aiming to stop rats, possums, stoats and hedgehogs in their tracks. There are now 1087 pest control stations maintained by volunteers at various points on the peninsula; Jenny says 900 volunteer hours have been put in already this year.

One of her aims is to get more residents involved in trapping in their own backyards or volunteering to assist in whatever capacity they can.

“Nobody likes to kill stuff – but we have a choice,” Jenny says. “If we don't deal with rats, stoats and possums, then we are effectively killing our native birds. And nobody wants rats and mice in their house so, whatever your motivation, it makes sense to get rid of those pests.”

“We are looking for people across the community to volunteer their skills, whatever those may be,” she says. “It could be maintaining trap lines, marketing or social media. People with good networks in the community and project ambassadors will be valuable in helping spread our base.”

She also plans to work closely with community groups, residents' associations, schools and large landholders.

Jenny is convinced that the peninsula has huge potential to become pest free. “It's very defendable with well defined choke points,” she says.

Any individual, group or business that would like to get involved can email j.hanwell@forestandbird.org.nz

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