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Still doing his part at 91

AT THE grand old age of 91, Gisborne’s Don Lees is continuing his life-long interest in the environment — by voluntarily keeping gardens free from rats.

A former horticulture teacher at Lytton High, Mr Lees now resides in a unit at the Dunblane Lifecare and Village, where he grows tomatoes in the garden — and that’s where the rats come in.The presence of rats raised his concerns for both his tomatoes and the native bird life, so he took a trip to the Tairawhiti Environment Centre to buy a Goodnature rat trap.“My aim is to get this place predator-free, if enough of us are joining in a club like that, we’ll do the job.“I’d like to see tuis out here, singing from the morning and I’d like to see native birds come back.”The trap uses non-toxic chocolate-flavoured lure and a gas-powered, self-loading and piston to kill the rats humanely.“The beauty of these is you can get them for a $20 deposit from the Environment Centre and have them for a couple of months,” Mr Lees said.Goodnature technical expert Sam Gibson said staff at the environment Centre would be able to show people how to use the traps.The dial on the trap tells Mr Lees how many hits the trap has recorded and so-far he’s done away with four rats already.He said the good thing about that was the local cats took away the dead rats, so there was no cleaning up needed.He also took care of two hedgehogs.However, the cats did not want to take the dead hedgehogs.“Nobody wants a hedgehog.“I’m very concerned about our bird-life.Hedgehogs eat young baby birds and eggs and all sorts of things.”

No slowing down: Don Lees with the gas-powered rat trap he got from the Tairawhiti Environment Centre to keep rats away from gardens at Dunblane Lifecare and Village. Picture by Liam Clayton