It’s important to record what you are doing so that you have information to refer back to if you decide to change how you do things. Good record-keeping will also help your volunteer group if you need to hand responsibility for predator control over to others. If your predator control operation is successful, your notes are a record of what works in your situation.
It can be as simple as having a notebook and jotting down a few basic sentences that describe what you did. The Kiwis for kiwi Trust has developed some simple worksheets you can use:
- Bait station filling recording form
- Possum and rodent density monitoring – Basic form
- Tracking tunnel – Basic form
- Trapping data recording form
Or you can go high-tech and try out these online data collection tools.
- What predator control method and equipment are you are using eg trapping versus toxins or a mixture of both
- Where you’ve placed your equipment
- How often you check, clear and reset/rebait your equipment
- What lures/baits are you using.
If any of this changes through a season or year, record when, how and why.
To know if your predator control programme is successful you need to measure the results of your control operation and the conservation effects it has had.
As well as counting the number of predators killed, it is important to know how many remain alive at the end of the control.
We’ve outlined below some simple things you can do to measure the success of your predator control:
- Rats — use tracking cards and tunnels before and after your control programme, observe any rat sign on large seeds and nuts and complete regular birdcounts. Birdcounts help monitor populations over time. You can also look out for fledged broods of fantails. Young fantails are darker than adults and will remain in a family group for several weeks. Seeing such groups is an excellent indicator of effective ship rat control.
- Mustelids (stoats, ferrets & weasels) — take part in the annual Kiwi Call Count Survey and complete regular birdcounts.
- Possums — use chew tags or wax blocks, annual observations of possum browse and complete regular birdcounts.
Technology allowing the remote monitoring of traps is being used in landscape scale projects throughout the country.