Wyllie Road Residents Unite for Predator Control

Demonstrating a powerful commitment to protecting their environment, the residents of Wyllie Road in Warkworth have banded together to tackle their possum problem, spurred on by the initiative of a sole resident and the support of The Forest Bridge Trust.

It all began when Trudy, from Wyllie Road, visited The Forest Bridge Trust’s stall at the Warkworth A&P show. Wanting to know how best to tackle her possum problem, she reached out to TFBT for assistance. However, Trudy didn’t stop there. Recognising the broader impact that a collective effort could have, she took it upon herself to contact her neighbours, rallying them to form a neighbourhood predator control group.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to Trudy’s efforts, The Forest Bridge Trust is now in the process of setting up traps on most of the properties at the top of Wyllie Road. Residents are enthusiastically taking on the responsibility of maintaining these traps, all with the shared goal of protecting the native species in their area.

Possum caught in a Flipping Timmy Trap

Tris Bondsfield, from The Trust’s Community Liaison Team, provided some insights into the initiative. “The funding for this project came through in October 2023 from the Rodney Local Board via Auckland Council,” Tris explained. “This funding is specifically aimed at supporting areas of ecological value within Rodney that need intensive possum control to protect the local flora.”

The current funding allows for the deployment of 450 Flipping Timmys (FTs) and 13 AT220 traps by the end of June 2024. These traps are not only being set up on Wyllie Road but also across other areas where ecologically diverse bushlands need additional protection.

The damage caused by possums in New Zealand is extensive and multifaceted. According to a Department of Conservation (DOC) report, 70 million possums consume an estimated 21,000 tonnes of native vegetation every night. Possums are omnivores, their diet includes leaves, fruits, berries, birds’ eggs, chicks, and insects, posing a severe threat to the survival of many native plants and animals. Additionally, possums are a major pest on farmland and can transmit Bovine tuberculosis (Tb), exacerbating their impact on New Zealand’s biodiversity and agriculture.

“The funding came at just the right time to support the efforts of the Wyllie Road group,” Tris noted. “It’s still early days, but we have already been contacted by excited residents who have caught several possums, sometimes as quickly as the morning after the traps were installed.”

This collaborative endeavour on Wyllie Road exemplifies the power of community action in tackling environmental challenges. By coming together, these residents are making a significant contribution to preserving their local ecosystem and protecting New Zealand’s precious native species. As the project progresses, it is hoped that their success will inspire other communities to undertake similar initiatives, fostering a widespread culture of conservation and environmental responsibility.