We are looking for an Operations Manager
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Predator Control Operations Manager Position

Due to recently securing funding to expand the Halo Project, LCT (the Landscape Connections Trust) has an opportunity for an experienced and enthusiastic Predator Control Operations Manager to join the team for a fixed-term 5 year contract.

Application close at 5:00 pm on Monday, 12th November 2018.

Read more at the conservation jobs website.

Rhys Millar
Winter Trap Maintenance
 Volunteers cleaning traps

Volunteers cleaning traps

 Staff maintaining and adjusting traps

Staff maintaining and adjusting traps

Halo Coordinators and volunteers have been busy with trap maintenance over winter – visiting each network to ensure traps are clean and in good working order before spring. If you find a trap that isn’t working properly, please let us know directly, so that we can get it back up and running as soon as possible.

by Matthew Thomson

Rhys Millar
Trapping Tips
 Double DOC150 traps with rolled cardboard on the plate to set off the trap

Double DOC150 traps with rolled cardboard on the plate to set off the trap

If you need to set off a DOC150 or DOC200 trap (e.g. to put in new bait, or for maintenance) it’s best to do this by dropping a wad of cardboard, some rolled-up old socks or something else substantial onto the trap plate. If you need to, you can then use a stick to trigger the trap.

Setting off the trap “dry” (without something substantial on the trap plate) will damage the trap mechanism. Please do not kick the trap box to set off the trap mechanism, thanks.

Now that it is spring, the grass is growing quickly. Next time you check your traps it is a good idea to have a weed around the entrance holes so that the wee critters can get in. We recommended at least a hand width space around each end of the trap (the entrance and the “bait display” at the other end).

Good luck and happy catching.

by Sophie Penniket

Rhys Millar
Lizard Monitoring
 A lizard monitoring retreat

A lizard monitoring retreat

 A juvenile southern grass skink in a retreat

A juvenile southern grass skink in a retreat

It’s nearly time for a new season of lizard monitoring! Last summer, the Halo project lizard monitoring lines at Long beach, Doctor’s Point and above Murdering beach/Whareakeake had the highest numbers of lizards. There are nine of these lines in total, in grassy areas across the Halo. We are looking for some new volunteers to monitor lizards this summer - if you are keen to join a team then get in touch!

by Sophie Penniket

Rhys Millar
How Safe is My Cat? - Classroom Research Projects on Traps and Pet Safety
 Shogun, the cat, sits on a dummy Doc200 trap box

Shogun, the cat, sits on a dummy Doc200 trap box

Classes at Sawyers Bay school, Port Chalmers school and St Leonards school have been researching how pets interact with traps that have been specifically designed to catch possums, stoats and rats. The children made predictions about what their pets might do around the traps and then put out dummy traps (trap housing with un-set trap inside) in some backyards, with motion-sensitive cameras filming what their pets actually did.

The trap housing is designed so that pets can’t get into the actual trap mechanism, even if they are interested in it. The footage from this study showed that cats quite liked to use the trap boxes as perches, but couldn’t get in to the actual traps – especially with our modifications that make the traps extra pet safe. Pet safety around traps is very important and when the appropriate type of trap is used in the right way, we can catch wild predators whilst keeping our pets safe.

by Sophie Penniket

Rhys Millar
Signal Tower Installation
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On the 29th of August, with the generosity of Thinxtra, we began the process of installing the SIGFOX signal tower. This tower is designed to allow us to remotely monitor our predator traps, reducing the amount of time and effort we need to spend checking traps that may or may not have caught a pest. A purpose made sensor placed on each trap will automatically send an alert via the tower, telling us which trap has gone off.

We started by digging a hole large enough to stand the tower (a power pole) in. This job was made significantly harder due to the rocky nature of the site. Eventually our digger driver Gary managed to get the hole to the right depth (about 2.2 m) and the process of standing it up could begin. Once up all of the necessary electronics could be installed and connected. The tower is powered by a combination of a purpose made wind turbine and a solar panel, both of which charge the huge batteries located at the base of the tower. The final step in the process was to put a fence around the base to prevent stock rubbing on the pole and potentially damaging some of the equipment. The whole process took three days and proved to be quite a serious undertaking.

Thanks to Sean and the team at Thinxtra for donating, designing and constructing the tower, as well as coordinating the install of the technology on site. A huge thank you must go out to Fulton Hogan for donating their time, labour and resources; without their help installing the pole would not have been possible. Local electrician John Pringle was a huge help during the install, particularly for his solar panel expertise. Finally, special thanks to Ben and Raewyn Waller for kindly allowing us to install the tower on their property.

James Tweed - Project Support

Rhys Millar
Little Blue Penguin Survey
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On the 16th of September, members of the Doctors Point trapping team and Halo Project staff undertook the third annual survey of little blue penguins on the stretch of beach from the Doctors Point carpark to the Purakanui side of Mapoutahi Pa. We broke the beach into three sections with one team in each scouring the rocks, banks, cliffs and shrubs for any signs of a penguin burrow.

After two hours of searching, the total number of penguins observed stood at five. A further five burrows were found that penguins probably use as homes regularly but did not contain any birds at the time of the survey. By comparison, a total of 11 birds were found in the first surveys conducted in February 2016 and February 2017. This does suggest a decrease but could be due to the fact that the surveys were conducted at different times of year, and so different stages of the penguin lifecycle. A follow up night survey will be conducted in the coming weeks and will hopefully give us a better indication of the total population size. Past night surveys have resulted in more penguins being observed (15 in 2017) so hopefully the same happens this time.

The small number of birds observed means that we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help this little population continue to survive and grow. The Halo Project trap network established in the area is helping to control one of the biggest threats facing the penguins, stoats. While this is an excellent step in the process other threats must also be managed and they can’t all be done by us. If you’re walking your dog in an area where you know or think there might be penguins, please keep it on a leash at all times. It only takes a second for a dog to grab and kill a penguin. Even the best behaved dogs pose a threat. Also trying to ensure that any recreational activities on the beach have minimal environmental impact will help to preserve the nesting habitat of the birds.

James Tweed - Project Support

Rhys Millar
Coastal Forest Restoration
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Here in the Halo, we’re extremely lucky to have large areas of remnant or regenerating native forest still intact.  Restoring and enhancing remaining forest is a key focus for the Halo Project. But, before we can begin any restoration activities, we have to have an understanding of what it is that landowners are interested in doing, and what help/support we are able to give them during the process. To do this I visited a range of landowners around the project area to have a chat about their views on restoration. These discussions were extremely helpful and I would like to thank those landowners that gave up their time to talk to me. It was evident that everyone I spoke to was keen to get involved in restoration, with most having already undertaken some in the past (e.g. QEII covenants, fencing, planting).

In the last few months I have been working on developing restoration plans for several sites to give landowners an idea of what might go into restoring a site. These sites are areas identified as being important for various reasons and are areas that, if restored, could hold very high biodiversity value. Hopefully in the coming months we will be able to work with the respective landowners to initiate the first steps of the plan.

James Tweed - Project Support

Rhys Millar
West Harbour Halo - Residents Survey

In May we sent out a West Harbour Halo - Residents Survey. We were interested in hearing your thoughts on biodiversity restoration and trapping in urban areas around West Harbour. We will update you soon on this information.

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Rhys Millar