Traipsing through chest high grass, battling with blackberry pricks and clearing animal traps is all part of a day’s fun for a dedicated group of volunteers who work to keep Mokoia Island free from rats, mice, possums and other animal pests.
Routine bio security checks involve setting tracking tunnels and monitoring traps set to protect native wildlife in the Mokoia Island Wildlife Refuge. Kiwis, weka and saddleback are known to live and feed in the sanctuary but are at risk of predation should rats, mice and other animal pests return to the island.
Teams of around six volunteers are taken to the island twice a month – rain or shine- to complete the process. The checks are currently being led in a partnership between DOC and the Mokoia Island Board of Trustees. There are aspirations that the Trust will fully lead this work in future years.
To mark International Volunteers Day (5 December), the Trust and DOC are taking the time to publically thank all volunteers who have contributed to bio security on Mokoia this year.
"International Volunteers Day is a great opportunity to thank those who give up their time to maintain Mokoia’s pest free status" says Rawiri Bhana. "The mahi is highly valued and appreciated."
“We have regular volunteers who give up their time every month and a few that come along but discover the work is harder than they originally thought!’ says Services Ranger Erin Patterson. “One of our regular helpers is 77 years old but we also see a lot of rangatahi (youth)”.
Miss Patterson explains, "Biosecurity work is just one area where volunteers help grow conservation. There are many different Rotorua volunteer groups such as Forest & Bird and Hamurana Springs Incorporated Society who each contribute to the wellbeing of our native species".