Building a Better Possum/Rat Trap

September 6, 2022 1:02 pm

Blog by Brett Butland – Landscape Director, Predator Free 2050 Limited

It’s always a pleasure to see the companies we support grow and flourish, and in July I had the privilege of visiting NZ Autotraps in Whakatāne to celebrate the launch of their new factory. It’s been up and running for a wee while, but Covid-19 has postponed many opportunities for celebration around the country.

We’ve worked with NZ AutoTraps since November 2019, when it started as a two-person team in Hamilton. Since then, they have opened a new facility employing 18 people and have now sold over 10,000 AT220 self-resetting traps, which can trap both possums and rats.

The AT220s are “set and forget” for up to six months, and can be monitored from a distance using telemetry. The trap is freshly baited each night with non-toxic lure from the lure tank.

When most companies invest, they are generally looking for a financial return. At Predator Free 2050 Limited we are looking for a different sort of return – improving our natural environment through the removal of invasive predators.

We do that in two ways. We invest in large scale predator eradication projects, such as the Korehāhā Whakahau project just up the road from the factory. And we invest in research and development – new science and innovative tools which help those projects to be more effective.

As the large-scale landscape projects expand, it has created a demand for new and improved tools (eg, lures, traps, cameras and communications networks) to get the job of predator eradication done now.

Our Products to Projects workstream supports kiwi ingenuity to develop and produce these tools.

The investment in NZ AutoTraps has certainly paid off. The AT220 trap has changed the game and saves predator eradication projects across the country huge amounts of time, money, and effort. At the event, Craig Salmon of Bay Bush Action, Northland spoke about the results from their 12 month trial using only AT220s to achieve and maintain zero rats across 250 hectares. And Kevin Bain, NZ Autotraps inventor, unveiled their newest innovation, a prototype kea-proof trap, and looked to the future potential of trapping technology with smart traps.

Take a look at how the AT220 came to be and how it has been performing in the field.

We were also very pleased to see the innovative approach of NZ AutoTraps in developing the AT220, and to their willingness to work with the projects to further refine the product once it was in the field – a great example of R&D with end-users.

The investment for these products comes from Provincial Growth Fund and Jobs for Nature, and is delivering results, through company growth, creating more jobs and getting Aotearoa closer to our target of being predator free by 2050.

More information on Products to Projects

Since its establishment, we have co-funded the development of 24 new tools, and seven of these tools are already available for projects to use.

1. AT220 Auto-Resetting Possum and Rat Trap (NZ AutoTraps)

2. Poa Uku (‘clay lure’) – A long-life ceramic lure that can attract predators to traps or other devices for over six months. (Boffa Miskell)

3. High-interaction Rate Trap – A motion-sensor triggered live trap for targeting remaining hard-to-control individuals. (The Cacophony Project)

4. Backcountry Camera – A thermal detection video camera complete with onboard image recognition AI and remote reporting. (ZIP – Zero Invasive Predators)

5. OutPost – An automated reporting system to enable timely and cost-effective transfer of field data from landscape-scale projects. (ZIP – Zero Invasive Predators)

6. MotoLure – A mechanical lure-dispenser, delivering a preset amount of lure for up to one year without manual service. (ZIP – Zero Invasive Predators)

7. PosStop – A tried and true live capture possum trap, the PCR No 1 leg-hold, in an effective raised set with remote locking. (ZIP – Zero Invasive Predators)

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