May 23, 2018 9:21 am

I’ve been walking around the West Coast’s Perth River Valley with Zero Invasive Predators Chief Executive Al Bramley.

I’ve been humming a John Lennon song.

It’s easy to imagine a future without predators when you’re with his team.

They are rethinking most aspects of traditional predator control. “Remove and protect” is their motto.

Traps no longer have heavy steel jaws. Instead, weight triggers lightweight doors that close behind the entrant.

Bait no longer goes mouldy and needs replacing – a long syringe oozes out irresistible peanut butter or “egg-mayo” paste over 12-months.

ZIP believe they can permanently remove possums from large unpopulated areas by changing the way pre-feeding and bait choice is used in aerial operations.

They call their approach “1080 to Zero”.

Any survivors or invaders are detected with sensors or traps and notified using low-frequency radio and satellites.

Satellite dishes are placed on huts and bivvies through the steep catchment. Batteries on sensors can last years.

Rivers and mountain tops are used as natural barriers.

Swing-bridges are made predator proof.

Trials this winter will find out more about patterns of re-invasion.

Bait syringes outside the control area contain a biomarker that is detectable on rat and possum whiskers. If rats and possums get into the valley from outside they’ll know.

If re-invasion can be prevented then the same approach can be rolled out valley by valley. Imagine what a predator-free West Coast would mean for birdlife.

Predator Free 2050 Limited’s support for the Perth Valley project is one of eight investments we are currently making in breakthrough science.

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