Victory Over Vermin
In 2015 the Wellington City Council approached the Rotary Club of Wellington with a request to partner with the Council to set up a vermin trapping initiative in the Mt Victoria Town Belt.
Donna Dentice agreed to become the Rotary Club’s representative and, in February 2016, she and Tim Park, the Wellington City Council Partnership Officer, ran the initial meeting of volunteers.
Twelve people answered that call and the project, called Victory Over Vermin, got underway.
Fortunately, the regional council had already set up multiple possum bait stations so that critter was under control, but the other vermin, including rats, mice, stoats, weasels and hedgehogs were decimating the bird life and, if they could also be eliminated, it would allow the bird life to return to the bush.
Funding for the project was provided by the Council (in kind) and the Rotary Club of Wellington, with Rotary District funds also being accessed later in the establishment cycle.
The first traps were set up in October 2016 and from small beginnings huge progress has been made.
Currently there are 366 traps spread across Matairangi, Mt Victoria, from Oriental Bay to the roundabout on Constable Street above Newtown. The Town Belt is divided into areas and each of these has a dedicated group of trappers who set up and monitor the traps regularly.
And since the project begun the group has caught 14 weasels, 1384 rats, 140 hedgehogs and 2698 other beasties, mainly mice.
At present the mice count is down a bit, but there are more rats than ever which corresponds with our recent long warm summer encouraging plentiful food sources; and so the trapping effort goes on.
And, to the project’s credit, the bird life has increased significantly over the last three years. We now have a resident flock of Kaka hanging about, we hear Ruru calling most nights, and of course the Tui population has just taken off.
This is in direct contrast to a few years ago when the only recognisable bird life in the Town Belt seemed to be Magpies.
The Rotary Club of Wellington should feel proud that its efforts are making a real and significant difference to a natural environment that is used heavily by the urban dwellers of Wellington.