Rats! Army calls on kiwis to help with rodent problem

Steve Mosher
Steve Mosher

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

MAKUA VALLEY (KHNL) - In its effort to preserve native plants, the army is now thinking inside the box with the help of people from down under.

A new plan is in the works to keep rats from killing off our precious natural resources.

So far, the army has shelled out around $25,000 in this effort to rid rats out of an area where many endangered species live.

Steve Mosher is known by many as Hawaii's rat expert.

But recently, he got some help from the people who may know more about rats than him.

"Just seeing from them that it isn't a daunting task, the numbers may look big, but it can be done," he said.

New Zealand is known around the world as the leader in pest control and trap design. So after a visit with experts there, Mosher asked them for some help here.

"With this being in the box, there's fewer traps that are sprung due to weather," he said.

The Kiwis brought along 400 of these brand new traps to go along with these tracking tunnels.

"What we want to see is the rats coming through to get the bait, they get to ink on their feet, then step on a nice, clean card and then we can come back and see if there are rats in that area," Mosher said. "Trap slides out and we bait our traps with macadamia nut and then some peanut butter, they'll eat just about anything."

So why peanut butter and macadamia nuts? Well, for one, it's cheap, two, it just tastes good and three, they use the peanut butter because it sticks to the trap and the macadamia nuts because sometimes, slugs have been known to eat the peanut butter.

"Rats are really a big problem in Hawaii," Mosher said. "In this area we got the endangered Tree Snail as well as seven endangered plant species that we're managing."

Including the Kahanahaiki Tree. The problem is rats eat up these seedlings, making it difficult for it to reproduce.

These tree snails or Kahuli also fall victim to rats. The Kahuli can't fend for themselves or reproduce quickly enough.

But with this new, innovative way from the people down under, mosher and his crew hope it ups their efforts to keep these native plants and snails from disappearing. So far, Mosher says the results have been very encouraging.

In a three week period, they've trapped around 200 rats from one area alone. Plus, rat activity has dropped 50 percent based on the tracking tunnels.