Momentum building for Predator Free Wellington

18 February 2019

Wellington has seen a huge increase in wildlife in recent years while more and more Wellingtonians are getting involved in making our city predator free.

Predator Free Wellington infographic

Already, over 6,500 households are actively involved in trapping across the city, and Wellington City Council is supporting over 30 volunteer groups who are checking many of the 2,900 traps set in council reserves.

An astounding 34,900 predators have been caught in recent years – at least 24,400 in backyards and over 10,500 in the city’s parks and reserves. That is more predators caught than the number of seats in the Westpac Stadium.

Now Wellington City Council and Predator Free Wellington want to better understand who is involved and what people think about the Predator Free Wellington project. When we first surveyed Wellingtonians in 2017, we found 84% were supportive of ridding the city of rats, stoats, weasels and possums. The initial survey also found that more than two out of three residents are willing to be actively involved in the project. 

We are calling on Wellington residents to complete the short online survey (5-10 minutes) and go in the draw to win 1 of 5 X $50 New World supermarket vouchers.

Predator Free Wellington Project Director James Willcocks is excited about the amount of support from the Wellington community: “We are constantly amazed by the number of people involved in the project. Every day I hear stories of more people getting involved, who has caught the biggest rat, or the incredible lizards and birds turning up in people’s backyards. Whether you are trapping or not, we are keen to get your views on the project so we can make sure what we are doing is well understood and continues to be well supported by Wellingtonians.”

The City Council’s Predator Free Wellington Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster, is a keen trapper himself. He is impressed at the initial outcomes of the project.

“People are noticing the return of native birds and lizards to their backyards, and ecological surveys are confirming that native fauna is definitely on the increase in Wellington. We have seen massive increases in tui, kākā, kererū and kākāriki in Wellington in recent years, off the back of council and community pest control, and habitat protection and restoration.”

“Becoming predator free is the next major step in our city’s environmental restoration journey and builds on over 25 years of land protection, active and natural revegetation, and the great work of Zealandia, our councils and thousands of community volunteers in reserves. Now there is a lot of planning, research and community engagement as we prepare to eradicate rats and mustelids from Miramar peninsula,” he adds.

Currently, the predator free focus is on eradicating rats, weasels and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula along with a long-term strategy for extending this throughout Wellington City. The Miramar Peninsula was chosen as the initial area of focus as it has been possum free since 2006, and as a peninsula is more easily defendable from predator reinvasion. 

While work proceeds in Miramar, the project and its partners Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NEXT Foundation, will continue to support predator control in reserves and backyards across the city, especially surrounding wildlife hotspots around Zealandia, Otari Wilton’s Bush and Khandallah Park.