So, you’re ready to form a group and tackle predator control in your area. But how do you kick things off? We spoke with a few established groups to find out what they wish they’d known at the very start, and this quick guide covers the 10 most common questions and issues. If you think we’ve missed anything vital here, please email us. Our Tools & resources section may also have what you are looking for!
- What are we trying to achieve?
Which plant(s) or animal(s) are you most interested in protecting and which predator(s) are you targeting? What area(s) will you cover? What is the scope – are you looking to eradicate rats from the area in five years, or 20? How many people will you need, and when? Who’s leading the project and how will you communicate? It’s a lot to consider, but the clearer and more specific your goals at the beginning, the more likely you are to achieve them.
If there’s a private landowner involved, you will need their approval in advance. If the land is public (i.e. overseen by DOC or local authorities), you’ll still need to keep them in the loop. Have a chat to DOC and your local environment council for advice on land ownership permissions – they may also be able to help with the various grants available and they have heaps of knowledge and experience when it comes to predator control.
- What type of area are we dealing with?
Whether you’re targeting a forest, wetlands, streams, or all of the above, you’ll need guides on navigating different types of terrain. Naturespace has a handy list of resources.
- What are the safety risks?
Every workplace has health & safety hazards, especially outdoors. Traipsing through rugged terrain? Dealing with intense weather conditions? Setting and maintaining traps? Your group needs to be well-informed on how to handle safety issues. WorkSafe has some comprehensive resources, Conservation Volunteers offers safety workshops for community groups, and Wellington City Council has created a safety guide for volunteers.
- Can we get funding?
There is a range of funding opportunities available within NZ to help support predator control, and we have listed some of them here.
- What equipment will we need?
Basically, each area is unique so chat to the experts and be prepared for a few learning curves along the way.
You’ll need advice on the types of traps available and their suitability for your group. Choosing the right baits and prefeeding, especially for rats, is also really important.
You may need to invest in a few power tools if you’re out in the bush. Talk to specialty power equipment shops first and invest in good equipment. Avoid chainsaws unless you’re a professional.
7. How do we track our progress?
Monitoring traps and keeping track of your progress (predator numbers within a certain time/area, protected species numbers, etc) – is vital to the success of your project and can also affect fundraising. Landcare Research has useful information on which predators to target and how. NCPA also has advice on predator control and best practice. For online data tracking options, check out our online tools for predator control section.
- Do we need to set up a trust?
First, think about what type of group structure you’ll need to have. CommunityNet Aotearoa has a chart of group types and the requirements depending on the size of your group.
A charitable trust tends to be a common structure for groups and can be set up for legal/financial reasons – in fact, it may be required before you’re eligible for any funding. It costs nothing to set up a trust and shouldn’t take very long. CommunityNet Aotearoa has a great how-to list for setting up a trust. Check if your local council has a community development unit to get the ball rolling. Certain skills are needed to run a trust (management, financial, etc), so tap into whatever your group members can offer.
- How do we recruit volunteers?
Put up notices in your community – schools, shops, etc. Set up social media pages (Facebook, Twitter) and invite people to join. Try SEEK Volunteer, VolunteerNet, Volunteering NZ, Conservation Volunteers and DOC’s Get Involved page. When you’ve got a few names, kick things off with a local meeting to talk through the issues and what’s needed.
Volunteers will be more likely to sign up and stay on if they’re hearing regularly from you. Keep your social media pages updated and also create an email group to send reminders, photos and progress updates.
- What other stuff do we need to think about?
You’ll also need to think about insurance, trustee responsibility, and who’s doing the financial reporting.