Working in partnership toward Predator Free 2050 – an Abel Tasman success story

March 10, 2021

The reintroduction of South Island robin, kākāriki, kākā, whio, pāteke and saddleback to Abel Tasman has been made possible by combined trapping efforts over the past seven years – and the reintroduction of kiwi is now on the horizon.

A DOC ranger checking a trap

Figures released by Project Janszoon show that as of October 2020 an impressive 41,469 rats, 1881 stoats and 336 weasels had been trapped in the park since data collection began in 2013.

In that time, our Predator Free 2050 goal was announced, and has galvanized the sustained trapping efforts – which are the combined mahi of Project Janszoon, the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, Air New Zealand and Te Papa Atawhai.

Every effort counts towards our ambitious national goal, collaborations like this between conservationists and community contribute immensely to suppression, while national collaboration groups think longer term - finding the innovations which will move us into total eradication in the next 29 years.

The current trapping network covers about 20,000 hectares, or 90% of the national park with around 3500 trap boxes with more than 5000 traps in them.

The cross-office trapping team of DOC staff members Josh Preston, Rhan Hurst, Dan Arnold, Amanda Harvey, Neil Mason, Dan Seebacher, Susi Clearwater, Aaron McClatchy, Ollie Harris, Deb Price and Kath Smith service stoat traps over an area of approximately 16,800 ha in central and southern Abel Tasman National Park, as well as stoat and rat traps over an area of approximately 2,300 ha in northern Abel Tasman National Park.

Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust volunteers maintain stoat and possum traps over an area of approximately 1,600 ha along the south-eastern coast of Abel Tasman National Park.

The Project Janszoon and Air New Zealand-funded traps are checked monthly. Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust volunteers service traps on a fortnightly frequency.

“We’re really stoked to see so many Community groups and landowners have stepped up to do stoat and rat trapping on the private land around Abel Tasman” DOC Senior Ranger Jim Livingstone said. 

Trapping skills are developed through “on the job” learning, or participation in formal trapping training workshops.  “Trapping competency is essential to ensure effective and safe predator control”

Trapping provides a good level of pest control throughout Abel Tasman National Park. “But we still use ongoing monitoring of seed production, rats and possums to make decisions around aerial application of 1080 where it’s the best option” Jim said.

Project Janzoon Director Bruce Vander Lee said it was starting to work on a plan to reintroduce kiwi to the park.

Consultation with iwi is key to much of the activity in Abel Tasman National Park and while not directly involved in trap servicing, iwi support the protection it affords native species.

It is vitally important that the community is involved in all facets of conservation. Ecological and environmental quality is an important component of our quality of life. Contribution to improving our local environment is a meaningful activity that improves wellbeing. Community support, understanding and participation provides increased capability and enables the national effort required to achieve Predator Free 2050.

Because our goal is multi-generational, schools in Motueka and Takaka frequently undertake classroom and field-based experiential learning sessions as part of the Project Janszoon education programme. The Abel Tasman Youth Ambassadors programme also provides enhanced conservation education opportunities for select students.