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Predator control

Predator control is an important aspect of biodiversity projects.

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Live capture trapping in Cape to City (Photo by Pouri Rakete-Stones)

Our predator control work has included trialling new technologies and techniques like optimising trapping networks, development of new traps, long-life lures, and wireless trap monitoring. All of these trials have contributed nationally to developing effective predator control.

The predator control methods we use in these projects are made up of two parts: initial knockdown and maintenance. The initial knockdown aims to drastically reduce the predator population to low levels that can then be maintained by a permanent network of traps that are checked infrequently. The initial knockdown takes the form of a rolling front moving across the landscape using live capture devices, such as cages and legholds. The maintenance network is then laid out using podiTRAPS with around one trap to 15ha.

If you want to find more about the research head to our resources page.

PAPP Trials

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Shane Diphoorn installing a chimney bait station as part of PAPP operation 2018 (Photo by Pouri Rakete-Stones)

Para-aminoprophione (PAPP) is used in bait stations as a stoat and feral cat specific toxin. Chimney bait stations exclude all animals except feral cats and were first introduced in 2017 in a 1000ha area. Camera monitoring results showed a 50% reduction in the abundance of feral cats.

In 2018 feral cat numbers were high across the area and the chimney bait station network was increased to cover the entire project area, 9,000ha. Camera monitoring showed a 40% reduction in feral cats. This 9123ha operation is the largest area PAPP has been used in New Zealand to date.

Camera monitoring vs detector dogs

Manaaki Whenua tested the effectiveness of using motion-sensitive cameras compared to wildlife detector dogs in Poutiri Ao ō Tāne on a property that had received intensive predator control versus a site with no control. They found that camera and detector dogs detected cats at similar rates at both sites and the operating costs for both methods were also comparable. Both techniques have advantages and disadvantages which need to be factored in, as does future research needs.

Boundary Stream Mainland Island Self Resetting Rat Trap Trial (Goodnature A24’s)

Boundary Stream Mainland Island has been a site of many pest control trials since 1996. One of the more recent trials has been assessing the effectiveness of A24 self resetting traps to reduce the rat population and rat re-invasion. Boundary Stream has 1552 A24 traps spread over its 816ha. The traps set to target rats and have been run under a number of different regimes over the years, varying the lure and the checking periods, with differing degrees of success. Currently the traps are being checked twice yearly and are lured with automatic lure pumps. The success of the A24s is monitored 4 times a year using tracking tunnels.

podiTRAP

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Pouri Rakete-Stones checking a prototype podiTRAP

podiTRAPs have been developed further since the start of Poutiri Ao ō Tāne when modified DOC250 tunnel trap was trialled alongside traditional boxes.

Partnering with Metalform Ltd. the modified traps were launched with Cape to City and further improvements made:

  • An easy set handle was developed to cope with the increased draw strength which also made it easier to see when a trap was set from a distance
  • A rotation mould was developed to produce plastic covers, extending their lifetime
  • Two trigger mechanisms are now offered in order to reduce the number of stock setting off the traps – the traditional treadle plate and a new dead weight trigger which requires the predator to remove the bait first

Long life lure

Ferret lure is being developed as a way to lower the cost of trapping. The scent of the lure acts as an attractant to predator species, and where it has been added alongside traditional baits it has resulted in an 150% capture of stoats. The lure lasts longer than current options, which means untriggered traps don’t have to be refreshed as often.

 

Rod setting camera

Rod Dickson setting a camera trap in Poutiri Ao ō Tāne

Motion-sensitive camera monitoring

Finding and tracking pests in the project footprint plays a critical role in predator control. Cape to City relies heavily on motion-sensitive trail cameras to increase our understanding of predators in the landscape, determine population trends across large areas, and detect 'hotspots' where predator numbers are particularly high. These cameras are proving effective at capturing predators that are notoriously difficult to track, such as feral cats.

Wireless trapping technology

Our project is also at the forefront of pioneering exciting new wireless trapping technologies. These systems send satellite alerts when a trap has been triggered, instantly notifying the trap manager's smartphone or computer. By using this tool, we're hoping to reduce the amount of time, effort and resources involved in maintaining a widespread trap network, making it a reliable and efficient method for pest control on farms and other properties.

podiTRAP

podiTRAPs have been developed further since the start of Poutiri Ao ō Tāne when modified DOC250 tunnel trap was trialled alongside traditional boxes.

Partnering with Metalform Ltd. the modified traps were launched with Cape to City and further improvements made:

  • An easy set handle was developed to cope with the increased draw strength which also made it easier to see when a trap was set from a distance
  • A rotation mould was developed to produce plastic covers, extending their lifetime
  • Two trigger mechanisms are now offered in order to reduce the number of stock setting off the traps – the traditional treadle plate and a new dead weight trigger which requires the predator to remove the bait first

Long life lure

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Stoat (Mustela erminea) (Photo by Patrick Garvey)

Ferret lure is being developed as a way to lower the cost of trapping. The scent of the lure acts as an attractant to predator species, and where it has been added alongside traditional baits has resulted in an 150% capture of stoats. The lure lasts longer than current options, which means untriggered traps don’t have to be refreshed as often.

Possum eradication and predator suppression

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Collared possum as part of landscape use study (Photo by Peter Sweetapple)

Whakatipu Māhia is the first time possum eradication across 14,600ha of farmland has been attempted, the largest in New Zealand. Using a combination of an intensive bait station network, targeted live capture trapping, and intensive monitoring using motion sensitive cameras and thermal imaging the team aim to have completed eradication across the entire peninsular by December 2021.

The aim is for the possum eradication programme to also drastically reduce predators (feral cats and mustelids) and rodents at the same time. A maintenance network of podiTRAPs will be deployed behind the eradication operation to maintain low predator numbers until we have the tools and techniques to eradicate these species as well.

Māhia landowners have signed onto both a Possum Eradication and Predator Suppression Area under the Regional Pest Management Plan. This protects the gains made into the future.

DNA testing for invasion pathways

Samples are taken from all animals that we catch as part of the eradication operation. These samples are tested for DNA to predict possum movement and habitat use across the landscape based on how closely related they are. This helps us identify possible target hotspot areas. Once we believe the area is free of possums, the DNA testing will also be able to confirm if any possums found are from Māhia or another area.

podiTRAP

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Pouri Rakete-Stones installing plastic moulded podiTRAP (Photo by Kaya Cooper)

podiTRAPs have been developed further since the start of Poutiri Ao ō Tāne when modified DOC250 tunnel trap was trialled alongside traditional boxes.

Partnering with Metalform Ltd. the modified traps were launched with Cape to City and further improvements made:

  • An easy set handle was developed to cope with the increased draw strength which also made it easier to see when a trap was set from a distance
  • A rotation mould was developed to produce plastic covers, extending their lifetime
  • Two trigger mechanisms are now offered in order to reduce the number of stock setting off the traps – the traditional treadle plate and a new dead weight trigger which requires the predator to remove the bait first

Long life lure

Ferret lure is being developed as a way to lower the cost of trapping. The scent of the lure acts as an attractant to predator species, and where it has been added alongside traditional baits has resulted in an 150% capture of stoats. The lure lasts longer than current options, which means untriggered traps don’t have to be refreshed as often.

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