James Willcocks, Project Director for Predator Free Wellington, describes this as a massive milestone that has been hard won.
“It takes a lot of persistence, resilience, and dedication to reach the target of zero rats in an urban environment and we thank everyone who has stuck with us on this journey,” says James.
“The project has relied on the support of the 20,000 residents on the peninsula, and involved almost every third household, business, school and kindergarten, hundreds of volunteers, technical experts, and our foundation partners Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council, Predator Free 2050 Ltd, NEXT Foundation and Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.”
Miramar resident Dan Henry has been leading the volunteer trapping efforts on the peninsula, and says he is immensely proud to be involved in the project.
“While getting the last rats has been a tough task, it’s incredible how quickly it has transformed our local environment. We’ve already seen a 71 percent increase in native bird detections, including a 500 percent increase in pīwakawaka and a 340 percent increase in riroriro. Mokomoko (lizards) and wētā populations have also increased significantly,” adds Dan.
Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter says the technical skills among the field team and Miramar volunteers are paving the way for urban predator free projects in Aotearoa.
“When the team started on the peninsula, the method was based on standard pest management techniques for New Zealand, learning from a mixture of pest suppression on the mainland and pest eradication on islands.
“That method worked for Norway rats, stoats and weasels, but not ship rats. We had to go back to the drawing board many times and continue to collaborate and innovate in a way that hasn’t been done before in this kind of environment," says Councillor Ponter.