START Taranaki Mounga trainee Trevor Walker, 16, with his mother Leonie Schuler, wants to lead his own trapping project in future.
A South Taranaki teenager who outgrew the classroom walls has found his calling helping protect the whio/blue duck population in Egmont National Park.
Trevor Walker’s efforts have been so successful that a whio, one of more than 200 in the park, was named after him.
Trevor , 16, is one of two first year START trainees working with the Taranaki Mounga predator-free programme.
START, or Supporting Today’s At Risk Teenagers, established in 2003 and based in Kaponga, has partnered with Taranaki Mounga predator- free project to mentor and provide employment pathways to young people.
South Taranaki teen Trevor Walker helping predator control on Mt Taranaki.
Walker spent a year with the START basic programme before joining the project, learning how to build and set predator traps, cutting tracks and lay trap lines in the national park boundary.
“I used to go into the bush with my uncles but it was still a bit of a mission building the traps and setting trap lines up to 15km,” he said.
“It was hard cutting the tracks and heavy work carrying the traps across streams.
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“There were a lot of days walking through the bush in wet boots from crossing streams.”
Working on his own, Walker built 300 DOC200 wooden traps before helping lay out 25km of trap lines from Mangawhero Rd to protect whio along the Waingongoro, Mangawhero, Kapuni and Kaupokonui Streams on the south east boundary of the park.
“It gives me a sense of freedom and I don’t have to rely on anyone to do what I’m doing,” Walker said.
“We get mostly stoats and rats in the traps using rabbit meat or eggs as bait.”
Recently 11 dead stoats were recovered from 30 traps on one trap line.
“The best part of it is finishing the day, the worst part is getting your feet wet.”
Walker has set his aim to lead a team of trappers.
“Hopefully I can get a team together and continue the work.”
Taranaki Mounga biodiversity ranger Cody Luckin said the teen had come a long way since he joined the predator free project.
“He was the partnership’s ‘guinea pig’ and it’s impressive how much he has come along and shown initiative.
“He is genuinely interested in doing pest control, not just turning up for the day to work.”
START operations manager Piers Duncan said the goal of the charitable trust was to direct youth to a more stable environment from what they had experienced.