Bring a pest to school day: Biosecurity talks traps with enthusiastic students
Scrambling up inclines filling bait stations, setting traps in bush reserves and planning our tactical response to pests are all in a day’s work for our biosecurity team. Except when they are out talking to the next generation of backyard protectors of course! Often asked to share their knowledge and expertise, some of the team recently went to Plateau School to talk to the students about pests, traps and all things predator (including a demonstration of a trap with an unlikely pest!).
Biosecurity Officers John Hambidge and Murry Clark spoke to four classes full of energetic students about protecting what’s unique about the Wellington region. The students, aged between seven and eleven, had lots of questions to ask the team about why pests were a problem and what they could do about it, which in truth is quite a lot. From starting a trapping network around their school to thinking about ways to minimize pests around their home, taking care of pests is everyone’s business and applicable to all ages!
John and Murry asked the students what they liked about the bush and the native animals that call the bush their home. Tui, Kakaa nd Kereru featured prominently and are prime reasons why pest control is so important; to nurture and protect the natural biodiversity that we all love. They also talked about the different pests we have in the region, where they come from, what damage they do in New Zealand, and what we do at GWRC to control them. An insightful older student asked about cats which led to lengthy discussion about whether cats still have a place in New Zealand.
Along with John and Murry came a menagerie of taxidermy animals, which were a hit with the kids. It gave them a chance to have a close up look at these nasty predators. The students could touch and hold a collection of these nasties including a stoat, weasel, rat, possum, hedgehog, and ferret, as well as interact with real animal skins that had been tanned. Animal traps, and bait stations were also demonstrated. The highlight of the day for the kids though was when John demonstrated a trap by squashing a banana in it! Talk about banana split!
Squashed bananas aside, engaging our future backyard protectors is a key piece of the biosecurity puzzle; teaching our kids that we need to protect what is precious to us now to make sure it is here in the future.
Check out a note from one of the enthusiastic students below!