Volunteers restoring native bird populations in the Wakatipu are devastated at the theft and vandalism of traps and trapping equipment.
At Wye Creek this month, an expensive resetting possum trap and a large $700 storage box containing hundreds of dollars’ worth of trapping supplies have been stolen.
Earlier, an old-style possum trap was twice removed from the same spot.
Above Arrowtown, about 10 traps, some bolted to steel, have been kicked off cliffs and thrown into the Arrow River.
Five traps, worth about $550, are also missing, presumably stolen, around Arthurs Point.
District-wide, traps have been generously donated by indivi-duals and businesses, and volunteers put in hundreds of man hours every year maintaining them.
“It’s a community theft,” Queenstown Climbing Club conservation officer Philip Green says.
“Small crimes like this are a big setback and can have a disproportionate effect on the morale of community groups like ours.”
His club looks after about 100 traps in the steep Wye Creek conservation area. They’ve killed almost 800 possums, rats and stoats over the past five years.
As a result, from almost no native birds, the area now hosts an increasing population of bellbirds, fantails and other native birds.
“People are seeing more birds in their gardens in Arrowtown,” Predator Free Arrowtown spokesman Ben Teele says.
“It’s all just generally positive except for this, which is why everyone is rather upset by it.”
Roy Smith, spokesman for Arthurs Point trapping group, KAPOW, says “the vast majority of local residents are massively supportive of our efforts which are being undermined by someone’s actions”.
“The traps are all completely humane and the animals do not suffer at all.”
Teele says there are lots of theories on what’s behind the vandalism.
“Maybe someone’s anti-trapping, but we really don’t know.”
Green says his club’s offering a ‘no questions asked’ reward for information leading to the return of the Wye Creek storage box and possum trap.