Fantail trust puts focus on predators

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Robert Koller with one of the possums trapped.

Conservation project the Fantail Trust is continuing to give nature a positive helping hand in the Rakaia Gorge area.

Set up earlier this year by Quickenberry Guesthouse owner Robert Koller, the trust aims to eradicate predators on the true left side of the Rakaia River by 2050 and to encourage, re-populate and protect native birds, animals and plants.

Support for the project is paying dividends and to date 216 possums, 12 stoats and a few rats have been trapped, Mr Koller said.

There was new growth coming in the area, seed production was in full swing and plenty of birdlife.

“Everything has a better chance of survival. The seeds will be there for the birds, the new plants will grow into bigger ones and there are fewer predators like possums around.”

Traps now extended from an access point at Terrace Downs and down the river for about 1km to the lookout above the Rakaia.

There were currently over 40 goodnature traps for possums, 10 DOC traps for rats and stoats and five automatic goodnature traps for rats and stoats.

Traps were checked three or four times a week, said Mr Koller.

Three sections of traps ran from the access point called Central Station and were referred to as the Piccadilly Line, Circle Line and Waterloo Line.

A regular electronic newsletter featuring nature updates is sent to around 140 supporters of the Fantail Trust, many of whom have helped to fund some of the sophisticated traps used in the area.

Other financial support for the project has come from Selwyn District Council, Environment Canterbury and Lake Coleridge Habitat Trust.

“Once all the money comes in we can buy more traps to finish the network all the way to the bridge and some other spots that we have not targeted yet. Then we plan to do some replanting in certain areas, but first we have to wait until the new owners of Terrace Downs give us permission, as most of the walkway is on their land.”

More information on the project is at the website thefantailtrust.org.

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