October 2017


Skink Monitoring

There is an opportunity for members to be involved in restarting the skink monitoring programme around the St Arnaud village, if you are keen please contact Wayne Sowman on 0272385597 or at wayne.julie.js@gmail.com.

St Arnaud Skink Monitoring


Pest control has been carried out by the Friends of Rotoiti and DOC around the St Arnaud village since 1998. Trapping targets mustelids, rodents, wasps and cats, which all present a threat to native lizards through predation. In 2002 lizard monitoring using pitfall traps was set up at two sites around the St Arnaud village by Terra Dumont and the FOR to monitor the populations of northern grass and speckled skinks. Monitoring was carried out annually from 2002 to 2012 to determine the effect of pest control on these two species of skinks and showed a decline in the populations of both species. This long term dataset is valuable at providing information on how pest control can be carried out to allow recovery of skink populations and is one of few long term lizard monitoring projects in the country. Given the value of this monitoring and that providing protection to skink populations from predators is still a national issue, skink monitoring is to be restarted as a joint project by DOC, Friends of Rotoiti and the Rotoiti school to continue to monitor the numbers and population structure of skinks at these two sites. Tracking tunnels were established around the village in 2012 to provide indices of abundance of rodents and determine the effectiveness of pest control at reducing pest numbers in this area. Tracking tunnels will continue to be run around the village to provide information of rodent indices.


To determine how pest control carried out around the St Arnaud village area is effecting the populations of northern grass skinks and speckled skinks.


Lizard Monitoring:

The methodology will follow the original methodology used by Terra Dumont from 2002-2009.

Monitoring will be carried out using pitfall traps already established at two sites (Ward St and Blackhill) in the St Arnaud area. At each site 19 pitfall traps are positioned along walking tracks and roads with pitfall sites chosen based on areas that are sunny and dry and appear favourable to skinks. Traps will be monitored for a four day duration once a month from November to February each summer, with trapping carried out in good weather to maximise catch rates.

Pitfall traps consist of a 3L canned fruit tin set into the ground so that the top is flush with the ground, and with a square tin lid placed over the top and weighted with a rock. Holes are drilled in the bottom of the tin to allow water to drain, the bottom then has a layer of soil placed on top. A piece of mouse excluder mesh will be set off the bottom to allow skinks into the bottom of the trap but exclude mice. To maintain moisture a 7x5x0.5cm kitchen sponge will be moistened and placed in the bottom of the trap. Each pitfall will be baited with a thumb nailed sized piece of canned pear. Traps will be checked each morning and skinks caught identified, sexed, weighed and measured (snout to vent length). Skink will be marked on the ventral side with a dot of silver xylene-free permanent marker pen with a different dot location for each day of monitoring so that day of capture can be determined for recapture. The dorsal and ventral side of each skink will be photographed. Skinks will be released at capture point. Northern grass skinks <42mm will be considered juvenile, while spotted skink <62mm will be juveniles. On the last day of monitoring the trap will be closed by filling them with skinks so that if an animal fell in it could climb out.

Tracking Tunnels:

Tracking tunnel monitoring will be carried out using established best practise on 3 village TT lines. Rodent monitoring will be carried out over 1 fine night in each of August, November, February and May. Mustelid monitoring over three nights or 21 nights can be carried out in November and February if FOR are interested.

Lizard Monitoring Instructions:

Day 1: Open traps

·         Remove sticks from trap.

·         Check adequate level of soil in base of trap.

·         Place moistened sponge into bottom of trap and thumbsized square of pear.

·         Place mouse excluder mesh into trap so that is approximately 5cm off the base of tin.

·         Place lid back over trap and place a rock on top to weight lid down.


Day 2-4: Check traps

·         Check each trap for skinks.

·         In all traps replace piece of pear and remoisten sponge. If sponge is dry then add a second one.

·         If skink is found measure and record the following:

o   Identify what species it is

o   Identify the sex

o   Weigh it in a bag using Pesola scales

o   Measure it’s snout to vent length

o   Mark on its ventral side a dot of silver xylene free permanent marker in the location for the corresponding monitoring day.

o   Note if it has a silver dot already present and the location of the dot to determine what day it was caught on

o   Photograph the dorsal and ventral side

o   Release at the capture site


Day 5: Check and shut traps

·         Check each trap for skinks and measure and record details as per days 2-4

·         Remove pear, sponge and mouse excluder mesh

·         Shut trap by filling with sticks so that an animal could get out if it fell in

 All filled in spreadsheets are to go into the data to be entered tray in the biodiversity office where it will be entered into the spreadsheet XXX.


Top of the South Trapping Workshop Invitation

3 December 2017

Saxton Netball Pavilion  8.30am to 4.30pm

We’d like to invite you to join us for a day of informative and inspiring talks, workshops and presentations on restoring our native wildlife by trapping invasive predators such as rats, possums and stoats.

The day will feature national and local speakers, including Nic Toki, Threatened Species Ambassador from the Department of Conservation. We’ll be discussing predator control science, monitoring results, data management, trapping techniques and common challenges.

Lunch will be provided, and there will be plenty of opportunity to connect with other projects and people from across the region.

Registrations are limited to 250, so to secure your place please register online at trapping-workshop.lilregie.com


Supported by Nelson City Council, The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary, Department of Conservation, Tasman District Council, and Predator Free 2050.


Full programme will be made available by the end of October 2017.



Julie Robilliard