Notching up an impressive trapping record of 1656 pests in eight years has earned a community award for the Hokonui Tramping Club.
The tramping club now holds a Gore District Community Award as well as a Mainland Minerals Environment Award, picked up in August.
Club president Gordon Baxter said the trapping work carried out by members aimed to bring back native birdsong to the nearly silent bush.
Hokonui Tramping Club started trapping in the Hokonui hills, there was little bird life in the bush at the east end of Croydon Bush scenic reserve area,” Mr Baxter said.
Since the project began, 104 possums, 404 stoats, 72 weasels, 82 ferrets, 254 hedgehogs, 678 rats, 44 mice, and 18 other species had been caught.
This was “a lot of pests in nine years”, he said.
A mean average of 184 pests has been caught each month since the operation began.
In 2009 the club established 40 predator traps on three ridges in the Grant’s Bush area and expanded to 76 traps on four ridges and along the top and bottom boundaries.
“They have also deployed 20 possum traps,” Mr Baxter said.
The traps are checked or re-baited twice a month from October to June and every three weeks during the rest of the year.
“This involves a minimum of 250 hours per year by members and other individuals who give up their time for this important work.”
Eggs and salted rabbits are used in the traps, resulting in an average catch of 180 pests a year.
Rabbits are trapped and used for bait.
One of the stand-out catches was a large ferret measuring half a metre from nose to rump, Mr Baxter said.
In addition to the predator work the club also carried out weed control in the area removing Darwin’s barberry, hawthorn and holly as well as carrying out track maintenance and gorse control on the tramping tracks used by residents and visitors, he said.
“This bush reserve is a great asset to the Gore district and a very attractive area for both locals and visiting public – it also offers a wonderful experience for school children’s education about their natural history.”
“However, without the continued and likely never-ending work of the tramping club, Croydon Bush’s bird and other wildlife would not be on the road to recovery that it is today.”
Gore District Council parks and reserves manager Ian Soper said most of the eradication work was carried out on Department of Conservation (Doc) land but it had a positive flow-on effect on to areas such as Dolamore Park.
Bird populations did not only stay on Doc land but also flew to neighbouring areas, producing a positive effect for that area.
Pests could wreak havoc on native birds particularly those that were low-nesting, Mr Soper said.