New partnership for NZ Autotraps adds firepower to hitting NZ’s predator free target

June 27, 2023 1:15 pm

NZ Autotraps Media release: 27 June 2023

A new partnership between the inventors of the country’s only automatic resetting combined possum and rat trap and the owners of New Zealand’s largest privately-owned conservation estate will provide a much-needed boost to New Zealand’s fight against predators and pests.

The New Zealand Carbon Farming Group (NZCF) has acquired a 50 per cent share of NZ AutoTraps, the companies have jointly announced today, in a new deal that will help support the next phase of growth for the innovative local trap manufacturer.

NZCF head of business development Scott Pollard says having extensively tested NZ AutoTraps’ products within the NZCF conservation estate, the difference the traps can make in New Zealand’s fight against predators and pests is obvious.

“We were fortunate to have been using NZ AutoTraps products in our pest and predator control programme and have seen what a highly effective tool it is,” says Scott Pollard.

“We’ve been evaluating the company’s flagship product, the AT220, over a number of months, and have not only found it to be very good at removing a range of target species, from possums to rats, stoats and weasels, but it also saves significantly on labour and management costs.”

NZCF currently invests more than $1 million per annum into the largest privately-run pest control initiative in the country. The programme, which includes the use of professional pest control contractors, has removed over 30,000 pest animals in the last 18 months. The programme supports the establishment of new forests and the actively managed transition of NZCF’s privately-owned permanent conservation estate into a biodiverse native environment.

“Large-scale programmes like ours really benefit from the efficiency of the autotrap, especially in targeting possums which cause massive damage to native tree growth,” says Scott Pollard. “But with many pest and predator control programmes reliant on small budgets and volunteers, the labour-saving features of the AT220 could be a total game changer in helping Aotearoa New Zealand reach its predator-free 2050 target.”

The scale of the problem targeted by the trap is significant, with more than 25 million native birds, chicks and eggs estimated to be eaten by predators – including rats, stoats and possums – each year. Possums also consume an estimated 21,000 tonnes of vegetation per night, with many native trees and plants particularly favoured.

NZ AutoTraps created its Fieldays Innovation Award-winning trap after inventor Kevin Bain saw traditional pest traps in the bush which had been triggered and the bait taken, without killing a predator. After several years of development and practical trialling, the company’s latest AT220 trap features nightly auto-baiting and an automatic self-reset for up to 100 cycles, with the trap able to work for up to 6 months between servicing. The trap is also programmed to be inactive during the day to protect native species.

The business currently supplies traps to Predator Free 2050 large landscape projects, local and regional councils, Iwi, pest control companies and private landowners and farmers.

NZ AutoTraps co-owner George Campbell says the NZ AutoTraps team is excited about the new partnership with NZCF.

“To dovetail in with New Zealand Carbon Farming and help protect their forests, is a really good fit and a really great partnership,” says George Campbell.

“The NZCF team has a professional team out on the ground with practical knowledge and experience and is constantly talking to farmers, neighbours and landowners about improving pest animal control, which will be helpful in terms of feedback and building connections. We’ve also got plenty of room to scale up our local manufacturing operation in Whakatāne and invest in more people to help support our growth.”

The business sees significant opportunity to both ramp up production of the AT220 and introduce new concepts targeted at different species in the fight against predators and pests, as well as additional features to protect native species.

While focused on the local market, George Campbell says the pest and predator problem is widespread, with many countries struggling with introduced species.

“From mongoose in Hawaii to snakes in Guam, we’re seeing growing demand for our product from export markets because most places have something that is harming native populations,” says George Campbell. “We have concentrated on New Zealand because we really want to help sort out our problem first but there is a big market out there as well.”

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