Town belt pests helping study

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Animal tracking . . . John McGlashan College pupils (from left) Tyler Wilden (17), Amani James (12) and Max Hore (13) inspect the "trapinator" possum trap at school last week. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Eight Dunedin schools and early childhood centres are taking part in an education project about the city’s town belt.

The Town Belt Education Initiative is a long-term project which aims to incorporate the belt into the classroom and encourage collaboration between pupils from different schools and the wider community.

The leadership team consists of three pupils from each school who come up with ideas on how they want to use the area as an outdoor classroom.

Education co-ordinator Claudia Babirat and Dave McPhee, of DM Holdings, visited John McGlashan College on Thursday to teach pupils about setting traps.

Ms Babirat showed the pupils possum traps and the paste used to attract them, which was made from flour, aniseed and icing sugar.

School pupil and predator control project leader Tyler Wilden said the group tracked animals in the town belt last term using ink pads and chew cards.

The pupils put jam in the middle of the ink card to attract animals, which then left footprints on the cards.

They also put peanut butter on the sides of plastic chew cards so the animals would leave bite marks when they ate the bait.

Both methods allowed the pupils to identify the animals, which included mice, hedgehogs, possums and rats.

Dunedin City Council parks and cemeteries manager Gareth Jones told the pupils he was really pleased with the project and it would make a difference in the long run.

He told The Star he was “delighted” by the results so far.

“It’s the start of bigger things, I think.”

The next trapping workshop will take place at Arthur Street School this month.