Ian McLennan lives in Helensburgh and is a passionate conservationist. Earlier this year, he rallied together like-minded neighbours to create a network of nearly 50 possum, rat and stoat traps across their properties. Ian shares how the neighbourhood is working together to create an urban sanctuary for native wildlife to flourish. 

8 December 2021

Written by Ian McLennan

Ian McLennan (left) with neighbour and fellow trapper Ian Maze (right) getting ready to install stoat traps.

What motivated you to start trapping with your neighbours?

My property overlooks privately-owned bush land that is contiguous with Ross Creek reserve. The sight of this bush enhances my life: my neighbours who have protected this land are the true backyard heroes.

My love of forest began as a Boy Scout walking in the Waitakere ranges. Retirement has provided me with the time to enjoy the forest again, and to contribute to its protection. I began trapping in Ross Creek under the guidance of fellow Orokonui volunteers. The Ross Creek line over-looks the bush near my house, and the importance of controlling predators in it was obvious.

The existence of City Sanctuary, and the wider predator-free movement, created the opportunity for me to work with my neighbours. Collectively, we can achieve outcomes beyond what we individually can do.

Left: School Creek runs through properties where the trap line has been laid. Right: Possum sign on a tree.

What species would you like to see flourishing in your area?

The song birds are the most obvious, but my interest is in preserving and enhancing an ecology. The mosses and fungi are beautiful and fascinating. The insects and worms are typically unseen, but intellectually it is nice to know that they are thriving. Mice predate and degrade the base of a NZ ecosystem, and we remove them along with rats and possum.

What would you say to encourage others to get involved?

Every contribution matters, just do what you can. When time and money are scarce, your support for the vision is a wonderful and sufficient gift. When circumstances permit, donate your knowledge, time and/or wealth.

Do you have any trapping tips to share with others?

Do it with mixed emotion. Love for the local environment. Sadness, for the species we remove are amazing, when in their natural ecosystem. They are other people’s treasures.

Trap catch tally: July - December 2021

  • 69 rats
  • 79 possums
  • 38 mice