Murray Gavin wins Forest & Bird’s Pestbuster award

Forest & Bird has awarded its prestigious Pestbuster award to Golden Bay man Murray Gavin for his committed work controlling predators at the important wetland at Mangarakau Swamp over the last 14 years.

The award, announced at Forest & Bird’s conference in Wellington on Saturday night (June 25), recognises exceptional work to control predators and pests.

Since Murray began his work in 2002 leading predator control in the 360 ha swamp near Whanganui Inlet, the numbers of rare species such as robins, Australasian bitterns and fernbirds have increased.

Murray visits the remote swamp, one of the largest in the South Island, around three times weekly alone or with other volunteers to check traps and maintain tracks. He also takes care of the areas around the Forest & Bird lodge, information centre, picnic area and along the public tracks.

He also helps manage two remote Department of Conservation reserves in the area, which protect two species of rare native snails, and he helps with other Forest & Bird Golden Bay branch projects.

In recent years Murray has also been monitoring a trap line in the Cobb Valley, a three-hour drive away from his home. Altogether, Murray manages 229 predator traps.

Forest & Bird Golden Bay branch secretary Jo-Anne Vaughan described Murray as “one of those salt of the earth Forest & Birders who is absolutely committed to the environment and to Forest & Bird”.

“He is a quiet person whose impact has been huge. He is integral to the Golden Bay branch and it is hard to see how we could have been so effective if he hadn’t always been there putting his energy into making our projects happen,” Jo-Anne said. “We all love him and depend upon him.”