Wednesday, 2 April 2014

tracking tunnels- cards out (part one)

As part of the ongoing biosecurity measures at Lake Rotokare, a full scale tracking tunnel run is held twice a year. A tracking tunnel is a rectangular shaped tunnel that has an inked card in the middle of it. It gets baited and left out for a week.
Tunnels are one of the monitoring measures used at the lake.
Creatures will be lured by the smell of the bait, walk into the tunnel... walk across the ink pad... have a nibble.... then walk out the other end... leaving their prints behind.
One of the tunnels

one of the cards, laid out with peanut butter and a small piece of meat

Nothing will be 'caught' in the tunnel, but we can gather information about what creatures are out and about in the sanctuary.
There are approximatey 1200 tunnels spread over the 230 hectares.
The tunnels in high risk areas (on the fence line and road edge and public areas) always have cards in them (all year round) and are monitored weekly. If an incident occurs (rodent prints are found) then traps will be put out in the area that they were found.
This method works really well at Lake Rotokare.
Last Sunday saw 10 volunteers (including me) and lake staff  start the mammoth task of putting the cards out. During this week we have continued to put them out. This Sunday we will hopefully get a really good turn out of helpers and will be able to gather most of the cards back in.
I'm really hoping that I will stumble across some lizard prints!!!

Below are some photos of the team in action.

Jenny and Chauncy cutting up rabbit meat and the cards all sorted into bundles


Many thanks to Ray for bringing his boat to rapidly deploy us into the field! about 2 minutes to get from one side of the lake to the other instead of a half hour walk. Lots of work time saved!


looking back to the office buildings across the lake.

Was super excited to meet this wee one while I was out. There are very few Robin at Lake Rotokare.

While out with Litchie this week he also pointed these out to me ....
read on to find out what they are, next photo might give you a clue

Litchie checking a burrow on the side of the walking track- it was well cobwebbed over.

Each card has a lot of information written on it- this is really important when we look at the cards after they have been collected. If there are prints we want to investigate we know exactly where the card came from.

Re-labelling each tunnel is an important part of the process. Each tunnel is labelled with the name of the area, line number and tunnel number. This tunnel is number 60 on the lake edge (that's what the L stands for) All this information is written onto the card that goes inside.

I certainly found out about muscles I didn't know I had this week while out 'tunneling.' It was pretty physcial work and made me realise how mega unfit I am! However I didn't complain I just got on with this vitaly important job. This monitoring is integral to maintaining the 'pest-free' status that Lake Rotokare is proud to be able to call itself.
Tracking tunnels are a really great way to find out what critters are living in your very own backyard. Lots of schools make their own and have them out and about for students to monitor what is in their school grounds..
If you are intersted in making your own here is a link on how to:
Real world learning for our kids- another easy way to get them interested in science :)
ps- those funny holes in the ground- kiwi probe holes!!!


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