Pestbuster team wins Forest & Bird trophy for trapping 530 bird killers

Conservation organisation Forest & Bird has awarded its annual Pestbuster prize to Don Sullivan and his team of trappers in Nelson.

They trapped 530 pests in the year to May 1 in four forest areas near Nelson and are already hearing the benefits of their work with increased birdsong.

The team’s tally for the year was 234 possums, 204 rats, 69 mice, 14 hedgehogs, six stoats and three weasels using 325 traps. Don has also spent time and money building 750 traps, some of which he has given to other pest control groups.

Don and the other 30 team members maintain traps in the Upper Marsden Valley, Barnicoat Ridge, Enner Glynn Bush and Kelly farm areas south of Nelson.

Don – an orchard worker – has been a Forest & Bird member for 40 years, and he realised the need for pest control when he noticed a decline in birdlife while tramping. As the areas in which he works have been more intensively trapped, Don has seen a rise in numbers of bellbirds, tomtits, fantails, kakariki and weka. A kaka was heard recently in Upper Marsden Valley for the first time in 20 years.

“We are trying to get the birdlife back so the children can see them,” he says. “Rats and possums are the main problem.”

Pest control is critical to the protection of most native birds and other wildlife, and rebuilding their depleted numbers. Possums, rats, stoats and weasels eat eggs and chicks. Hedgehogs eat eggs, and possums also eat the plants and trees birds feed on.

Independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird has 50 branches around New Zealand, and most have pest control projects in reserves and private land using traps and pesticides.

The Golden Rat trophy will be presented to Don at Forest & Bird’s annual general meeting in Wellington in late June.

For more information or a hi-res jpeg, please contact: Forest & Bird Communications Officer Marina Skinner, 04 801 2761,

021 792 260