5 reasons why it’s time to join your local trapping group

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New Zealanders join trapping groups for a number of reasons. They may want to protect our native species, leave our country in a better state for future generations or they may feel a strong sense of personal responsibility.

Group of volunteers
Predator Free Miramar trappers. Image credit: Dan Henry

Beyond the selfless motivations, joining a trapping group can be of great personal benefit. There are hundreds of trapping groups across the country so wherever you are – now is a great time to find your local group and join

Here are 5 ways you can benefit.

1. Get active

Did you know exercise can cure hangovers and ward off wrinkles? There are countless benefits to being physically active. 

If you want to get fit in a way that doesn’t involve a 6 am yoga class, joining your local trapping group can be an easy way to get more steps in.

Trapping can be as strenuous as you like. Whether you’re tramping through dense forest checking traplines or going down to the bottom of your garden, trapping is a two for one – getting active and doing good.

A group of volunteers working on some trap tunnels
A trap building workshop. Image credit: PF Opawaho – Chris Bostock

2. Enjoy the outdoors and be in nature

Now more than ever, we see the value in our time outside, soaking up Vitamin D.

It’s not surprising then that research shows spending time in nature improves our mental wellbeing. However, there is evidence to suggest that trapping might be particularly good for you. 

A recent study surveying Wellington residents found that levels of depression, anxiety and stress are lower in people who spend more time in natural spaces. The greatest health benefits were seen in those who took part in predator trapping.

Forest walk in Orokonui Ecosanctuary.
A forest walk at Orokonui Ecosanctuary. Image credit: Orokonui Ecosanctuary

The research suggested that there were ‘significant additional wellbeing benefits gained when people experience active stewardship of their environment alongside other nature-based activities.’ Trapping with your local group is not only an opportunity to be in nature but to restore it at the same time. 

From a Māori worldview, everything in the world has a life force or ‘mauri’ and when our natural environment is not cared for, its mauri is weakened. This has a direct impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Our health and the health of the environment are deeply connected. In caring for Papatūānuku (Earth mother), we are caring for ourselves.

3. Join your community and meet new people

Becoming a part of a community initiative like a trapping group is a great way to get to know like-minded people in your neighbourhood. Researchers surveying Wellington residents found that social cohesion scores are double for trappers. Social cohesion is a term used by policymakers meaning the strength of relationships and the sense of solidarity among members of a community.

Through your group, you can get to know your neighbours and in turn, look out for one another and share a vision for your community. You might even make a few friends. 

A lot of trapping groups have Facebook pages where they ask questions, share information and celebrate wins. Even during level restrictions, when these groups are unable to meet in person, they are active online. 

A group of people stand looking at Cam Speedy talk about predator control at an event.
Cam Speedy shares his knowledge of predator control. Image credit: PFNZ

4. Have pride in your patch

Close up of a tui on a red flax bush
Tui eating flax. Image credit: Skenneally (via Wikimedia Commons)

A lot of trapping groups evolve in response to a local problem, for example declining bird populations, increasing predator numbers or a deteriorating natural habitat.

Often these local issues do not capture the attention of the media or the wider public. By getting involved in a trapping group, you can advocate for your local natural areas and bring pride to your neighbourhood. 

It can be hugely empowering to play your part in local environmental decision-making and outcomes. 

“Our work brings mana to the community. It brings pride” says Earle Wright from trapping group Tapora Land & Coast Care Group.

5. Develop useful skills and learn new things

Learning doesn’t have to happen in a lecture hall. When you volunteer with a local trapping group, you can learn new skills outside. 

If you weren’t a ‘bird nerd’ before joining, your fellow trappers will enlighten you on the local taonga species that you are striving to protect. The more you know about them, the more you will appreciate the influx of native manu (birds) as your trapping efforts pay off. 

Experiential learning or ‘learning by doing’ is a big part of being a volunteer. As your group’s conservation efforts progress, so will you. From a simple understanding of trap setting, you will grow a library of knowledge and skills. Some initiatives even offer more formal learning opportunities including training courses and workshops.

If you’re looking to give your résumé an edge, volunteering also allows you the opportunity to practice important skills for the workplace such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, planning and organisation.

So what’s stopping you?

Kākā in a tree
Kākā, Mamaku Point. Image credit: Joshua and Britta Jones