Pest control programme educates students

22 Aug 2022, 2:05 PM

Northland high school students recently had the opportunity to participate in the ‘hands on’ Enviroschools Project Pest Control Programme.

The two-day event held at Kiwi North in Whangarei, offered students theory and practical sessions which looked into animal pest biology and the devastating impact pests continue to have on the environment.

A record 99,126 animal pests were trapped in Northland last year and on average 1900 are trapped on the Kiwi Coast every week.

Northland Regional Council (NRC) Education Manager, Susan Karels said it was important for students to remember pest animals such as possums were still living, breathing animals deserving of a respectful and humane death.

NRC Biosecurity team members shared ‘best practice’ advice and taught trapping techniques targeting possums, feral cats, mustelids and rats using a selection of traps.

Tuition and kōrero with the students focused on the importance of trap placements and setting raised leg-hold traps to ensure non-target species like kiwi aren’t caught.

The Enviroschools pest project meant many of the students in attendance were able to receive NCEA credits as part of their participation, not to mention an insight into future career opportunities in pest control and biosecurity.

NRC pest monitoring shows the hard work of trappers and further education around pest management through programmes like Enviroschools is achieving the desired results, with the threatened status of Northland brown kiwi downgraded to ‘conservation dependent.’

The NRC investment to support various pest control and biosecurity actions is an annual allocation of around $11 million dollars.

Teacher demonstrating possum plucking to student.

Bay of Islands College Year 12 student, Darious Davis learns how to hand pluck a possum from DOC Livestock’s Duane Doughty during the Enviroschools Project Pest Control Programme.