Interested in starting your own backyard group? We’ve drawn on the knowledge we’ve accumulated from working closely with 55 Kiwibank predator free backyard communities to create a useful starters-guide.
Below are tips and common stumbling blocks that can trip up a new backyard group up. Have a read through this advice to get off to the best start.
- Why start a backyard group?
- How to get started with building a backyard group
- Top tips
- Common stumbling blocks
Why start a backyard group?
While trapping in your own backyard is great, it probably won’t be enough to get an influx of tui and kereru in your neighbourhood.
We’ve estimated that to see a real difference, we need a trap in every 5th backyard. This is the tipping point that will create a habitat safe enough for our native wildlife to thrive.
Creating backyard/neighbourhood groups is an important way to spread the word about the importance of trapping in own backyards and gardens.
The more people we can get involved with trapping, the more native species you may see in your neighbourhood.
How to get started with building a backyard group
Step 1: Check what already exists
Use this map to check if there’s an existing group near you. If there is, contact them to see if you can join them or expand their group to your area. It is much easier to build on what an existing group has done than starting your own from scratch.
Step 2: Get other people onboard
If there isn’t another backyard group you can join, step 2 is about getting others on board to help you out. Find a neighbour who is interested, or a friend in the area, to form the core of your group. Having people with you from the start will make the next steps even easier.
Step 3: Goal setting
Set a goal for what you want your backyard group to achieve. Think about what predators you want to control and the species you are trying to protect. See our beginners guide to predator control for more information.
A good way to narrow this down is to do some monitoring in your own backyard. Tracking tunnels or chew cards help you work out what predators are present and bird counts help you identify what bird species are in the areas.
We recommend starting with a small, achievable goal e.g get a trap into 1 in 5 backyards in our street or area so we can see more tui in the neighbourhood.
Step 4: Set up a Facebook group
This is an easy, free way to connect and share information with your backyard group. You don’t need a fancy logo or anything, just a name for your group will do to start with. Follow Facebook’s instructions here. Later on you can ask your group if anyone has any design skills to help create a unique logo for your group. Remember to make your page public so people can find you!
Step 5: Grow your numbers
Go door knocking (with your partners) and explain to people what you’ve found from monitoring, what you’re trying to achieve, and what they can do to help. Invite them to join your Facebook group, and attend your first group kick-off.
Step 6: Have a kick-off meeting
It doesn’t have to be formal, it can be something as small and informal as a cup of tea at someone’s house. At that meeting discuss your goal, and make a plan for achieving it. A big thing to consider is funding — how will you pay for the traps and equipment? Does every household buy their own, or should you seek funding? Check out our funding page.
Step 7: Get trapping!
Once you have agreed on what you need to do then get those traps up and running. Follow our simple guide for setting up your trap.
Step 8: Map your group
Once you’ve established a group, plot your group on our map so others can find and join you. Add your Facebook group or website in the contact details.
So those are the 8 steps to get started! If we have missed anything, then let us know.
We’ve got our backyard group’s top tips for setting up a successful group:
- A great way to get people involved is to give the households in your area a chew card and a pamphlet explaining how to use it. Once people see proof they have predators in their backyard they may be more motivated to join your mission. You can get 20 chew cards for $18.75 and we have a pamphlet template you can adapt.
- Think about how you approach people and what language you use. People may not give you a favourable response if you talk about “killing”. Try keep the focus on the outcome of helping our native species thrive.
- People love seeing what impact they are having, so record the number of catches you get, or your bird count numbers in your neighbourhood, and share them on your Facebook page. This will help keep people motivated to stay engaged. Read our recording and monitoring section to see the tools you can use to record your data.
- To save money on the cost of equipment, you could try making the tunnels yourself. You could organise a working bee and follow these easy instructions. You could also look for funding partners, like your local Mitre 10, who might be interested in helping support the project.
- Once you’ve successfully engaged the people in your street or neighbourhood, think about expanding further afield. Who else is nearby that could be interested in the predator free movement? Businesses? Schools? Parks?
- Remember that not everyone will be keen to get involved in trapping but they may be willing to help in other ways. Or they may be willing to have a trap on their property if someone else checks it. Have a chat to see if they’re willing to help in other ways.
Common stumbling blocks
Our backyard group has shared the obstacles that came up as they were starting out and how they got over them.
Obstacle: Someone with an important role in the group gets too busy and leaves.
Solution: Assign a back-up for each role, so if someone leaves you know exactly who will pick up the work.
Obstacle: People realise they have bitten off more than they can chew and they back out.
Solution: Start small and share the load around. If everyone only has to do a little bit, you’re more likely to achieve your goals. We also recommend setting up the structure of street captains who are in charge of a group of traps. They can touch base with the different houses to ensure everything is going smoothly.
Obstacle: Your trap rate has gone right down and you’re not sure what to do next.
Solution: Contact other groups to ask for advice on other activities you can do with your group. Perhaps there’s another predator you could tackle or another area you could expand in to!
Best of luck with starting your backyard group!