“…the push to find more efficient means of doing your trapping so you don’t have to go out into the field quite so often, is that you are not going to be… doing your informal monitoring and noticing the changes – you won’t have your finger on the pulse, and that’s a real limitation of the way some of the science is going.”
This quote is part of a long post-dinner discussion recorded while in the company of two friends, both of whom are long-term community group members. Changes are happening fast. The whole arena of predator control along with new developments in acoustic recording will have huge implications both for wildlife and their community users.
On a practical level, multi-kill traps dispense with the need for continual bait restocking. This may mean groups either lessening their workloads or making use of time gained by extending their trap lines into new areas. Acoustic recorders designed to capture bird calls for estimating the abundance of, say, brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) could save hours and hours of volunteers’ time.
Describing the experience of re-visiting the same landscape again and again whether forest, wetland, mountaintop or beach is undoubtedly complex. One thing is certain though – for those receptive to their surroundings, it’s about weaving connections. While checking individual traps takes just a few moments, it’s what occurs alongside that’s important: “… you clean it you scrape it, you do it 50 times … you’re down on your knees and you look straight into a cobweb which has a got a 2-horned weevil in it and you think hang on a minute and you look again and it’s a 3-horned weevil and you’ve never seen one in a wetland before and it’s trapped and it’s dead so you pick it out and your put it in a box, take it home and photograph it then suddenly you find there’s a whole bunch of stuff going on here you didn’t know about…”
Of course finding new, efficient, humane and robust ways to stop the downhill slide of our biodiversity is paramount. But will there still be time to observe the minutiae and learn from them?