Source: Auckland Council
Tucked away in the Helensville countryside, a familiar scene plays out as a young boy sets off on his motorbike across the fields of his parents’ farm.
But George Watson is anything but ordinary. This 10-year-old has, for the past year and a half, been venturing out on the farm to try his luck at trapping pests.
It all began with a trip to a trapping workshop with his granddad.
A lightbulb went off in George’s head, and he’s been trapping ever since. The excitement is apparent in his voice as he reels off his list of catches, “I caught a possum and a stoat; it’s really, really fun,” says George.
Now, he’s a convert. He’s out on the farm on a weekly basis, traversing the terrain on his motorbike and scrambling into bushes to check his traps. And he’s having great success!
George and his family use several varieties of traps, across the farm from the front gate to the back paddock for trapping pests.
“I do it for the native animals because I don’t want them to go extinct,” George explains of his unusual hobby.
“Oh, and the bittern, we have a bittern on the farm,” something almost remarkable given that the brown, feathered bird is one of New Zealand’s most endangered.
George is quick to mention that he and his family have been taking their trapping efforts further afield to Lake Rototoa, ensuring the local native wildlife, including the New Zealand dabchick and the Caspian tern, is protected from pests.
While he’s at school, George takes part in Forest Bridge Trust’s CatchIT programme. By visiting schools like George’s, Waioneke School, the programme aims to support children in becoming decision makers for the future of their environment.
The programme received a Mayoral Conservation Award in 2018.