Date: 29 February 2012
Traps can be set high in trees, this photo shows a deceased animal below the trap
A new win-win situation for the health of our native forests and the people dedicated to protecting them is emerging in the Kaimai bush north of Tauranga.
Aongatete forest near Katikati has been chosen as the best site for a scientific trial of new self-setting possum traps. The trial began this month with up to five dead possums already observed at most traps. Department of Conservation (DOC) staff will continue to monitor the performance of the traps throughout the year.
Several sites have been chosen for year-long trials to assess the new traps which were designed by Wellington company Goodnature Ltd. These traps contain a small gas canister which automatically resets the trap every time it goes off, making them easier to manage than standard traps and poisons, which must be checked regularly.
DOC is undertaking several national trials of these traps which could save many hours of work for community volunteers, as well as staff from DOC and other environmental agencies. They may even lead to major improvements in the overall efficiency and scope of possum control undertaken in New Zealand.
Brad Angus, the DOC Ranger in Tauranga who is managing the local field trial, is pleased with the early results. “Aongatete already has a great community initiative underway that is controlling introduced predators, so this trial is adding value to an existing project run by them”, says Brad. “The trial site is far enough from the community group trap lines so as not to affect results, but overall the forest is going to be in better shape because we are working alongside the Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust volunteers who are caring for the area”.
Stu Barr from Goodnature Ltd said: “The potential for these traps is huge. They will take a lot of the leg work out of pest control which is traditionally a very labour intensive job. In tough terrain just two people can lay 100 hectares of traps in a day that only need rechecking and servicing once a year. They could revolutionise pest control in New Zealand“.
Tauranga trap trial facts
- 400 hectare trial site
- 9 km trapline cut through bush
- 93 traps installed
- 80 m between each trap
- 10 times the trap can go off and reset itself (approximate)
- 5 dead possums found at some of the traps during recent monitoring