Group receives boost to fund ‘game changer’ trapping tech

Standing beside a new AT 220 trap in the southern bush are (from left): Southern Lakes Sanctuary...
Standing beside a new AT 220 trap in the southern bush are (from left): Southern Lakes Sanctuary co-ordinator Bonnie Wilins, FTP Solutions agriculture manager Jonathan Clark and sanctuary technical and safety adviser Philip Green. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A new trapping technology — which has been labelled a "game changer" — is bagging many times more pests than more traditional methods.

The TrapNodes technology is set to revolutionise trapping and will be much more effective in catching the pests which plague forests around the southern area.

The Southern Lakes Sanctuary have been using the new AT220 traps with amazing results and the group has received a $50,000 boost from Xero founder and Queenstown resident Rod Drury.

Southern Lakes Sanctuary project director Paul Kavanagh said the new traps could reactivate straight after catching a pest.

After engaging with the pest, the trap releases the dead animal and it slides off the trap. The battery then starts again and the trap, which includes a camera, is operational again and ready to catch more pests. It sends a message to Sanctuary staff on the type of animals caught, its battery level, and bait level.

Mr Kavanagh said the device was catching up to six animals a night. That was compared to the more traditional traps which could only catch one animal and then had to be manually changed with the disposal of the animal.

"Some of these old traps are set out for a month for one animal but the animal could be caught on the first night so the trap is out of action for all the rest of the month," he said.

"With this new trap we don’t have that. It is really reactive and saves so much time on staff and is so much more effective."

One new trap is used over 7ha compared to one trap for every hectare under the old trapping system.

Mr Drury has contributed $50,000 for the Southern Lakes Sanctuary to further invest in the technology.

Among other locations, Southern Lakes Sanctuary has 23 AT220 traps operational at Bush Creek in Arrowtown, and these traps have removed 1072 pests since they were deployed under a year ago. During the same period, a random sample of 23 traditional traps caught 24 pests. The group has about 200 of the new traps, which cost about $700 each.

The traps — developed by technology company FTP Solutions — can be set to detect target and non-target species, as well as collect live data, such as when the traps have been activated or need repairs. The information is sent directly to the Southern Lakes Sanctuary via email or text.

FTP Solutions agriculture manager Jonathan Clark said the approach was to increase productivity, and by leveraging this technology, predator-free projects gain the ability to take a unit of labour and deliver 10 or 100 times more work.

"It’s a game changer for predator control and conservation in NZ."