Thanks to sponsorship from the Freemasons, Kiwi Coast is running a field trial of NZ Autotraps AT220 mechanically re-setting NAWAC approved possum and rat trap with three Northland community-led projects in 2021.
Kiwi Coast is keen to support the development of new pest control technology and tools that will help Northland projects find efficiencies and maximise ecological gains. Reducing pest reinvasion rates into project areas and/or finding ways to save time spent checking traplines will be of great benefit to all the groups and projects involved.
However, novel products can be expensive and experience has shown that once in the field, further refinements are often required to ensure they work effectively.
By supporting regional field trials, Kiwi Coast seeks to save individual community projects spending hard-won funds on products that may still need improvements or modifications for Northland conditions.
Northland Freemasons have sponsored 30 AT220s. Kiwi Coast has selected three community-led projects across the region to lead the field trial – Mangatete Landcare in the Far North, Tutukaka Landcare in eastern Whangarei, and Piroa-Brynderwyns Landcare to the south. Each group will receive 10 traps to trial for one year.
The field trial will be set up and carried out by professional pest control operators with considerable practical experience in using a range of traps. The product designer – NZ Autotraps – are also providing training, support and advice to operators to ensure the best results are achieved and will assist with problem solving along the way.
Bay Bush Action (BBA) have also secured funding to run an independent two-year field trial, deploying 533 AT220s over a 260ha area in Opua. The aim of the BBA trial is to test not just trap performance, but investigate the effectiveness and efficiencies of using the trap at scale.
To maximise the robustness of the results obtained, a standard set of protocols will be used across the Kiwi Coast and BBA Field Trials for trap installation, servicing and data collection.
Other Northland projects also using the traps will be encouraged to participate in the field trial and use the same set of protocols. NorthTec Conservation Management tutor Dai Morgan and students have also offered to assist with data collation and analysis of results.
The projects involved, Freemason representatives, NZ Autotraps, Kiwi Coast trappers and Bay Bush Action gathered for a training workshop and fieldtrip into the Bay Bush Action trial site in February to work out the nuts and bolts of the trial and learn more about the traps and how to install them to get maximum results.
The AT220 is a self-resetting kill trap that targets both rats and possums at the same time – the only trap currently designed and NAWAC approved to do so.
The trap is triggered by the animal entering the caged trap compartment. A mechanical arm then kills the animal quickly and humanely. After five minutes the AT220 then re sets itself, and can do so up to 100 times on a single charge of the battery.
The AT220 uses an oil-based mayonnaise lure, dispensed by a motorised pump inside a 500ml bottle. The lure refreshes each time the trap fires or every 2 – 3 days. A tray captures any overflow. The trap has a daylight sensor so that the trap will not fire during the day to avoid capture of non-target species and help keep people safe. After catching, it takes 30 minutes to mechanically re-set itself.
The field trial will run for 12 months. Although initially the project was planned to start in July 2020, delays associated with the Covid pandemic have led to a start date of March 2021. This will push the result analysis and final reporting to a June 30, 2022 deadline.
With the NZAT220 field trial now up and running, Kiwi Coast and Freemasons are discussing options for a second sponsored project and are currently looking into how trap reporting sensor systems could be used to advantage with the emerging predator free projects in Northland.
Any Northland project using AT220’s that wish to participate in the field trial and help collate data should contact Ngaire the Kiwi Coast Coordinator.