Possum culprit detected

9 May 2017

Maukatia Bay by MEACT

Mystery footprints in the sand at Maukatia Bay (pictured) and identified via Pest Detective has prompted the Muriwai Environmental Action Community Trust to add extra targeted traps to its trapping lines.

The Trust, established to enhance the Muriwai environment, has two pest eradication projects; one to achieve a ‘pest-free’ Muriwai and the second to protect the habitat of grey-faced petrels (titi) and little blue penguins (korora) found in the four bays immediately south of Muriwai Beach's famous mainland gannet colony, where Auckland Council and volunteers control predators.

Access to the southern bays is constrained by the combination of difficult terrain, weather, tide and sea conditions, so the Trust finds it can be a matter of weeks before safe access will allow a service run. With these constraints a combination of bait stations and GoodNature traps are the most practical option across the four bays and the main measure of the predator control effort is the number and variety of predator tracks found in the sand after low tide.

possum tracks 12x200The mystery footprints were identified as those of possum, ‘nasties’ the Trust says were once common in the area and now very rarely seen due to the sustained predator control efforts. Consequently, three possum traps have now been added to the predator offensive which is otherwise mainly targeted at mustelids and rats.

The Trust says that titi and korora were only just hanging in along the bays, which was surprising, given suitable habitat and relatively infrequent human presence. Monitoring has shown a modest return of titi breeding over the last few years, which adds impetus to the predator control efforts.

“Pest Detective has been able to assist us with targeting species,” the Trust says.