Ranger Joe Waikari shows GPS trapping technology to school students

Image: Trudi Ngawhare | DOC


This programme is investing in the development of new predator control tools and technology to support Predator Free 2050.

The Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) Tools to Market Programme seeks to invest in the accelerated development of new and existing predator control tools and technology by designers and engineers across New Zealand.

The purpose of the Programme is to make smarter, safer and more effective tools and technology available to the Predator Free 2050 community within a one- to five-year timeframe.

Tools to Market directs $1.4m of investment every year and the funding supports the full gamut of steps from proof of concept, through research and development, to prototype testing at a landscape scale with three main goals:

  • Refine current predator control tools to make them safer and more cost-effective.
  • Develop new or improved tools to eradicate predators at a landscape scale.
  • Expand predator control so a range of tools are available for different environments and situations.

Projects underway

Tools to Market was initially allocated approximately $700,000 per annum across four years as part of Predator Free 2050.

Five projects were begun in 2017 and in Budget 2018 the Government committed a further $700,000 per annum across four years to improve the current predator control tools. These are the projects currently underway with one project completed.

Development of a new bait to control stoats using PAPP

This project is working on a new pre-made stoat bait containing the toxin PAPP (para-aminopropiophenone) that is easy to use and can be applied across larger areas than existing PAPP bait from the air.

An initial bait station trial was completed in 2019 and a second is underway before moving onto hand laid and finally, if all goes to plan, aerial trials that will test the effectiveness of the new bait when aerially deployed.  PAPP is already in use for stoat and feral cat control however it must be made and injected into balls of mincemeat to be used within 48 hours in bait stations.

A new pre-made bait would make PAPP easier to use and enable it to be applied across a larger area from the air. PAPP in this form would be useful in forests and alpine areas where the number of rats and mice is too low for stoats to be controlled with 1080 (which relies on stoats being poisoned when they eat the rodents). 

Research lead: DOC

New methods to evaluate the vulnerability of native birds to PAPP

This project is developing methods to estimate the susceptibility of New Zealand native birds to PAPP. If PAPP is to be applied from the air (see project above), it is essential to have a good understanding of how the toxin would affect our native birds if they accidentally ate it.

The methods in development include creating an assay that uses tiny amounts (ideally less than 10 microlitres) of blood from the birds. Effects of different amounts of PAPP on the blood would then be extrapolated to how PAPP would affect a bird at higher doses.

Research lead: Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

Extending a Norway rat-selective pesticide to also target ship rats

A new pesticide that effectively controls Norway rats has been developed, but two other species of rat – kiore and ship rats – are also present in New Zealand. Ship rats are not as susceptible to the new pesticide as the Norway rat. This project is adapting the formulation and loading of the new pesticide to deliver a lethal dose to ship rats.

Research leads: Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and Orillion Ltd

Automated pest detection – PAWS ® pest identification sensor pad

This project is developing a low-cost automated device (a sensor pad) to detect and identify pests. It could be used to alert managers of an invasion at pest-free islands and mainland islands. The device relies on the development of algorithms to accurately identify mustelids (stoats, ferrets and weasels).

Working prototypes will be trialled in the field as part of the project and its accuracy checked with cameras with DOC remaining closely involved throughout the testing and pre-production process.

Research leads: Lincoln Agritech Ltd, Boffa Miskell and Red Fern Solutions.

More information:

Using drone technology to eradicate predators

The aim of this project is to harness the potential for drones to be a game-changer for pest control and eradication by investigating the use of an adapted heavy-lift drone to distribute pesticide baits. 

The project will test how the drone performs in a series of field trials, using a new light-weight bait spreader to apply non-toxic cereal baits over areas between 600 to 2000 ha. It will look at the feasibility and costs of drone use for predator control as well as potential savings in carbon emissions from current aerial methods. 

The project is also a case study on the Airspace Integration Programme led by MBIE.

Research lead: Environment and Conservation Technologies (ECT)

More information:

Developing a long-life multi-species lure

This project began in August 2020 and seeks to develop long-life, non-toxic, non-perishable lure that can attract multiple species.  The lure will be developed by testing the behavioural responses of seven species to a range of different compounds (including rats, mustelids and cats) followed by a series of bioassay trials to determine which are the best performing lures for prototype long-lure technologies.

The best lures will be incorporated into the (previously developed) encapsulation devices and tested in the field.

Research lead: University of Canterbury

More information:

Bringing long-life rat lures to market

Controlling rats by attracting them to traps, particularly self-resetting traps, requires having sustained release, long-life lures available. This project has successfully created lures that attract a number of species and is now progressing through to making the products available commercially.

These next steps include identifying the best encapsulation and dispensing technology, trials, cost analysis and full patent application. Once in place, the lure will be available to DOC and its partners to use where appropriate.

Research lead: Victoria University of Wellington

More information:

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