Sep 132010

Hello fellow pestbusters


This email is the first of what we hope will be a regular email to keep in touch with everyone around Otatara who is undertaking pest control and trying to enhance our amazing native birdlife. The Otatara Landcare Group has taken this project under its wing and has formed a sub-committee to oversee this project, comprising Russell and May Evans,Randall Milne,Brian Rance,Nathan CruickshankandEdith Jones, with expert advice fromTim Ridingfrom Environment Southland. We have been busy and there are updates through this newsletter on some of what we have been up to. This first newsletter has a series of items that we think may be of interest to you.


You will all know that one of the special features of living in Otatara is having healthy bird populations; notable are the tui, bellbirds and pigeon. Have you noticed how much birdlife we have compared to many bush areas of Southland and Fiordland? Pests are probably the greatest threat to our native birds in Otatara (and the rest of Southland). The Otatara Landcare Group has been undertaking intensive pest control for rats, possums and stoats at Bushy Point for a few years now. This control work is showing success with bird monitoring showing increasing numbers of some species – notably the rare fernbird. However there is continual pest reinvasion into the Bushy Point area. Therefore it would be great to reduce the pest reinvasion by expanding the control area. We also knew several people were already controlling pests on their own property, and it would be good to link up to share ideas.

 A public meeting was held on9th June 2010. At this meeting there were four very interesting talks – the first by scientistRalph Powleslandon the DOC pigeon and tui research project, highlighting the impact of predators on these birds. Local photographerJason Hoskingshowed photography from two tui nests that he followed the progress of.Brian Rancetalked about the Bushy Point pest control work. The evening finished withTim Ridingfrom Environment Southland (ES) talking about the effects of various pests and how to control them. The evening was a huge success with over 80 people turning up and over 30 people signing up wanting to be involved with controlling pests on their own property. At this meeting we took names of those that were either undertaking control or that wanted to get involved. Following the meeting we had about 30 people on the list, which has now grown to over 60 people.

 Tips for Pest Control

*  Now is the time to make sure you have got all your traps/bait stations out and set. Our native birdlife are setting up their nesting territories and will soon be busy nesting. Now is the time when these birds are most prone to predation.

*  The density of traps/bait stations required is dependent upon the territory of the pest animal. For rats, the traps/bait stations should be 50m or less apart, for possums 100m or less, for stoats probably about 250m apart.

*  For a typical half acre section two rat bait stations/traps are recommended. For a one acre section six rat bait stations/traps are recommended.  These would be best located along the boundaries of the section (i.e. four corners and two in middle or associated with the house, sheds and compost bins. For larger sections the number will depend upon the shape of your section.

*  If you work together with your neighbours, the area receiving control will be larger, and the control work will be more successful with less reinvasion occurring.

*  Rats love shelter, so they tend to come into house and sheds during cooler periods. Extra bait stations/traps are recommended around your house, sheds and compost bins. Rats will find food and shelter in compost bins so these are another place to target.

Pest control workshops

Following the Pest Control evening meeting we held a very successful pest control workshop on Saturday 11th September. This workshop had a great turnout with 26 people attending. At the workshop everyone said what they were doing/what they wanted to achieve and why they were interested.Tim Ridingfrom ES talked about the various pests in Otatara and how to control them, and a range of traps were displayed. There was discussion on how and where to put traps and other helpful suggestions. Traps and bait stations were available for sale and the starter kit proved very popular.

 There will be another opportunity to discuss pests, inspect and purchase traps/bait stations etc and ask questions in association with the Southland Community Nursery open day at 185 Grant Road on Saturday 6th November, 1.30-4:00pm. Let us know if you would like to attend another pest control workshop.


Now that our group has grown keeping in touch is more important and more challenging! We are using email as our primary form of contact. We think a name for the group is important, and Otatara Pest Control and Birdlife Enhancement project is too long! We think the name Otatara Pestbusters might suit.

*  May Evans is the contact co-ordinator and maintains a spreadsheet with your contact details. If you know of anyone that you think should be on the list contact May (email at or ph 2130530). Talk to your neighbours and friends in Otatara to get them to join up as well!

Edith Jones has offered to collect notes you make on your pest control efforts, successes and observations. She will collate some of these and put out regular updates of what is happening. Contact Edith at email or ph 2131571.

*  Russell Evans has offered to look after rat bait co-ordination. You will be able to purchase small amounts of bait at our cheap prices from him. Russell will be available between 3 and 6pm Wednesdays; or Saturday mornings, 9 till noon to sell rat bait. Or you can contact him at email at or ph 2130530.

 Pest animals and control techniques

Rats are the major predator of nesting birds; both because they are widespread and common, but also because they are good climbers. Rats can be controlled by either poisoning (with baits in bait stations) or by trapping. There are pro’s and con’s of each; however poisoning is generally more effective and efficient.

You can view all the products under ‘Products’ but the descriptions will remain on this document, the original newsletter. 

 The rat bait stations are plastic and about 600mm long, fitted with no.8 wire to hold the bait.  The bait can be replaced very simply without touching them.

 Baits sit in the middle so they are well out of reach of small children and pets.

 For possum control we recommend trapping, especially in well populated areas like Otatara. There are a few different trap models available – we recommend the tree mounted Possum Master or ground based Timms trap, both of these are kill traps.

 For stoats, traps are needed; we recommend the DOC 200 trap, this trap can be used in single or double set boxes (i.e. wooden trap box open at either one or both ends).

 Remember that rat bait is a poison, therefore needs to be stored in a secure place and correctly labelled. We will have labelled bait buckets available for you. The baits that we will use are Contrac and Ditrac [later on].  The toxin in Contrac is Bromadiolone. These toxins are designed for rats; a cat or dog would need to eat a lot of poisoned rats to be affected by the toxin. If you suspect that a pet has eaten bait, the symptoms are being very lethargic. The cure is to take it to the vet and treatment with vitamin K.

 Though bait stations are more effective for rats and mice, we are also supplying traps for these pests at a discounted rate. The traps are Victor snap traps or TRex snap traps.  

The Otatara Landcare Group has a selection of control equipment available as listed above. This equipment is that recommended by Environment Southland (ES). We buy it through ES who are able to bulk purchase and offer us cheaper than the commercial retail rate.

 We have also been successful in obtaining some funding from both ES and Invercargill City Council for this project. Therefore we are able to offer a further subsidy over the discounted ES rates. You won’t get a better price! Below is the list of equipment available. [Prices may differ slightly from those charged on the first workshop day, but are still far cheaper than available through retail suppliers].

The more people that get involved in pest control the more successful the control will be. Remember you will not only be helping our birdlife, but also helping the bush, making your garden healthier and stop pests getting into your house. Good luck with your control work.

If you want more information contactRandall Milne( ph 2130851, Russell or May Evans ( ph 2130530,Brian Rance( ph 2131161 orTim Ridingat Environment Southland ( ph 2115115).




Happy trapping



May Evans,

Contacts co-ordinator

Otatara Pestbusters


September 2010

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