Phase II of the Department of Conservation’s trials of self-resetting possum traps has been launched in Northland’s Trounson Kauri Park, and in the northern Te Urewera National Park, following positive results from tests in Waikato.

Phase II of the Department of Conservation’s trials of self-resetting possum traps has been launched in Northland’s Trounson Kauri Park, and in the northern Te Urewera National Park, following positive results from tests in Waikato, Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson and Green MP Kevin Hague announced today.

“The early indications from small trial sites have been positive,” Ms Wilkinson says.

“The traps are working as intended, and most importantly, killing possums.

“We’re now moving to larger scale trials under Phase II of the project, which is aimed at determining how successful these traps are at controlling possum numbers to low levels over the next two years.

“DOC will set 321 traps at Trounson Kauri Park and a further 333 in Te Urewera and will be monitoring their effectiveness.

“The trials are part of the $4 million pest control initiative announced by the Government last year, working alongside the Green Party. Three self-resetting trap prototypes – two from a Wellington company and one from a company based in Canterbury – were selected for testing in what are the largest self-resetting trap research trials to be held in New Zealand.

“The Goodnature Ltd ‘Henry’ trap for possums performed well in Phase I – which aimed to determine whether the traps function as intended – and has progressed to Phase II.

“The Government shares the Green Party’s desire to explore more effective ways to control the pests that threaten our native wildlife and, if they perform successfully, these traps will be a new cost-effective weapon in that battle and enable us to undertake more pest control work.

“Controlling the pests that kill millions of native birds each year and devour seeds, fruit and foliage is the biggest conservation challenge we have.

“I am hopeful we will see encouraging results from Phase II and I look forward to continuing to work with the Green Party on this important initiative.”

DOC spends over $20 million on pest control annually, much of it on labour costs as traditional traps must be manually cleared and reset after each kill.

Lightweight and durable self-resetting traps – which automatically ‘fire’ and reset 12 times – can reduce labour costs enabling more money to be spent on more traps.

Background Information

  • In 2010, DOC sought Expressions Of Interest (EOI) for manufacturers to provide self-resetting traps for evaluation. After considering all submitted designs, DOC selected three trap prototypes for trial – the Goodnature Ltd ‘Henry’ trap for possums; the Goodnature Ltd ‘Henry V10’ trap for rats and stoats; and the Lincoln Ventures ‘Gladiator’ traps for rats and stoats.
  • Phase I ‘Preliminary Field Efficacy Trials’ of the possum self-resetting traps involved a series of small-scale trials designed to provide robust evidence that the ‘Henry’ trap functioned as intended, and killed possums in a timely and appropriate fashion. DOC tested nine ‘Henry’ traps in the northern Waikato’s Whangamarino Wetland, and then 22 in the Hakarimata Ranges between June and August. In total, 27 possums were killed cleanly and humanely during Phase I. A trial run by Goodnature Ltd in Wainuiomata also killed 36 possums from 10 traps set out over a week.
  • DOC has now decided to proceed to the Phase II ‘Operational Scale trials’ of the ‘Henry’ possum trap. Phase II is a larger-scale trial in the 450ha Trounson Kauri Park in Northland, and the similar-sized Casino Block in the northern Te Urewera. Up to 350 traps will be installed at each site. Phase II aims to determine whether the traps can be used to control possums to low numbers for up to two years, and is scheduled to end in 2013.
  • The Goodnature Ltd ‘Henry V10’ for rats and stoats has also been independently tested and met the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) standard as a humane kill trap. As such, it is scheduled to enter Phase I of DOC testing over the coming summer. Canterbury company Lincoln Ventures was unable to supply humane self-resetting ‘Gladiator’ traps within the agreed timeframes and, as such, will no longer participate in the project.
  • The third and final testing phase will begin once all operational scale trials are completed and DOC is confident that both the possum and rat and stoat traps perform adequately. Phase III will involve moderate to large-scale control of all three pests over varying areas within a demonstration site. Phase III aims to evaluate the success and cost-effectiveness of self-resetting traps in an area that has not previously had a high level of sustained pest control. It is scheduled to end in 2015.

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