Predator Free Arrowtown was formed in early 2017 to help control pests and predators around Arrowtown and the wider area. This group is concerned primarily with reducing the numbers of mustelids, rodents, and possums in the Arrow River catchment area. This area contains some of the best-preserved ecological values in the basin, and is home to multiple different native species, including rifleman, falcon, and weta. The project aims to expand the existing trap lines through local business and community involvement. So far the project has attracted enough funding from local businesses and other groups to acquire over 300 traps, which target a mix of different pest species.
An additional component of the project is to get local Arrowtown households involved in trapping in their back gardens to help create a pest free zone within the town. Further inclusion from the surrounding golf courses will help expand this area of control, allowing native species to recover in the catchment. Eventually the project looks to expand and connect trap lines run on Mt Soho, Coronet Peak, and Cardrona. It will also incorporate areas that will be revegetated with native plants providing increased areas of habitat, such as Feehly Hill and Tobin’s Face.
The project currently has trapping lines focused in the portion of the Arrow River Catchment closest to town. This includes along the Arrow River, up Bush Creek, along Brow Peak and Big Hill, Brackens Saddle, and out to Whitechapel. Monitoring lines are run in Bush Creek where rat numbers are highest, and in future camera traps will be established to record mustelid presence.
Traps currently in place and frequency of checking
All traps are checked and rebaited approximately monthly. Some lines closer to town are checked on a fortnightly basis.
Usage of area
The Arrow River catchment area forms part of the natural backdrop to Arrowtown. There are multiple access tracks through the catchment, including part of the cycle trail network. The catchment is almost completely covered by the Mahu Whenua QEII covenant, allowing full public access. These tracks go through a mix of natural and exotic bush, including remnant mountain beech forest, tussock grasslands, and grey shrubland. These are popular with hikers and mountain bikers.
The first year objective of the group was to get as many local businesses involved as possible through purchasing traps for the projects as well as disseminating information about the importance of the natural values of Bush Creek. Traps that are purchased by businesses are set out and monitored by a group of volunteers. Monitoring is also undertaken by volunteers. Due to the success of this, the trap lines have been expanded from the initial focus on the Bush Creek catchment.
Following the success of the three-year objective, which was to expand into urban trapping and begin to control ferrets, the five-year objective looks to consolidate the trapping network and plug any holes. This will include the installation of more traps into areas around the town including golf courses, as well as covering tracks which do not yet have traps to prevent reinvasion from the surrounding area.
Long term objectives include the natural reestablishment of key species missing from the catchment. This includes kea and rock wren, both adapted to alpine environments. Long term goals include the strengthening of existing threatened populations of certain species such as rifleman and falcon through increasing breeding success. This will be in parallel with natural and assisted regeneration of native bush within the catchment. If 10,000 hectares can be fully controlled, then additional species for translocation could be considered such as Robin and Takahe.
Contact person/s and details:
Benjamin Teele – Main contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Teele – E3 Scientific
Glenn Davis – E3 Scientific
Anyone who lives or spends time in Arrowtown and who wants to get involved with conservation of the area should get in touch. There are always opportunities to be involved, including checking traps and monitoring lines. No experience needed.