Mystery Creek Predator Free Hub
Conservation and protection of native species surrounding Mystery Creek.
As New Zealand National Fieldays Society gears up for this year’s Fieldays® event at Mystery Creek (June 16-19, 2021), the surrounding community is walking the talk for their environment and the protection of native species inhabiting the area.
Just 15 minutes from downtown Hamilton, Mystery Creek is not only home to the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere, the annual Fieldays®, but also to one of the country’s critically endangered species, the tiny long-tail bat.
New Zealand National Fieldays Society’s chief executive Peter Nation says conservation and protection are part of the society’s sustainability and education strategies. With a focus on sustainability that started in 2012 and landed the society the Social and Environmental Sustainability Award at last year’s Westpac Waikato Business Awards, the society is now aiming to be predator free. “We have now established the Mystery Creek Predator Free Community Hub, which is bringing together neighbours, iwi, businesses and schools to educate, inspire and provide support for our own biodiversity and predator control efforts,” Peter says.
Funding from Waikato Regional Council is assisting to run the hub for the next two years, and there has also been support from the Department of Conservation, as well as like groups in Hamilton and nearby Cambridge. “We are providing predator traps for our neighbours and there is ongoing support including training days,” he says. “This work brings a community together involving whole families. We see that this is where not only groups in the community and local businesses can visit and learn more, but also where schools and the next generation of ‘protectors’ can be inspired.”
The Mystery Creek Predator Free Hub is co-ordinated by Karen Barlow, who has experience in working with groups of volunteers in the wider Hamilton community to protect native species, particularly in predator tracking and trapping.
With an aim to install 400 traps, nearly 200 are already in place in crucial locations at Mystery Creek, which runs along the Waikato River – rivers and bushland being an environment favoured by rats, hedgehogs and stoats that prey on the eggs of native birds, as well as young chicks, and other native species such as lizards.
Possums are a critical target too with Karen showing community volunteers the different traps that can be used. She also encourages use of a smartphone app, the Trap.NZ app, to record every catch, so that an accurate record can be kept of where different pests are being caught, creating valuable reports from the data. Used and funded by many regional councils, the app is an on-the-ground tool for mapping, locating and managing traps, and monitoring site and bait station records.
As well as the predator control work, the Department of Conservation has also installed bat monitors on the Fieldays® property at Mystery Creek so that long-tail bat activity and roosting sites – mostly in trees – can be determined and therefore protected.
The next target for the society in its sustainability work will be a major planting project along the banks of the Waikato River.
After being an online only event in 2020 because of Covid-19, the Fieldays® physical event is back again from June 16-19 2021 with health and wellbeing measures in place to ensure everyone’s safety. The event will also be available online.
For tickets go to www.fieldays.co.nz
Showdown Productions Ltd. Rural Delivery Series 16 2021