Traps allow DOC to set and forget

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 14:51 08/11/2012

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A two-year trial of a self-setting gas-powered rat and stoat trap has begun at Nelson Lakes National Park.

Touted as potentially revolutionary in controlling predators in remote areas, the A24 traps can be activated 24 times before they need to be serviced, compared with the DOC 200 traps which are currently used. Once a DOC 200 is sprung, it has to be manually re-set.

More than 800 of the new traps will be be trialled in the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project Three other ‘‘mainland islands’’ in the North Island will carry out their own trials.

The A24 traps, which have passed animal welfare standards, can kill and re-set themselves repeatedly before they need to be serviced.

Conservation Department scientific officer Craig Gillies said the A24 could change in the way DOC carried out predator control, and could result in significant savings in the amount of time spent checking trap lines.

Some of the manual trap lines at St Arnaud were checked fortnightly, but with the new self-setting trap, lines might need to be checked only once or twice a year, he said.

Great spotted kiwi have been re-introduced successfully to the nature recovery programme at St Arnaud and are producing chicks. Kiwi chicks are at risk of predation until they are about a year old, so to ensure the new trap lines are working and protecting the kiwi and other birds, DOC will be monitoring the area so stoat and rat levels remain at the low levels needed to protect the species.

If the two-year trial is successful, the traps could be used in more areas across New Zealand.
DOC has been working with the maker of the traps, Good Nature, for more than a year, and is already one year into a trial involving a gas-powered trap that targets possums.

The department traps over 5000 hectares at St Arnaud and works with volunteer group Friends of Rotoiti, which carries out trapping over a further 5000ha.

DOC St Arnaud Nature Recovery project team leader Grant Harper said the department worked closely with Friends of Rotoiti, which had helped with the rollout of the new traps.

Friends of Rotoiti had come up with some innovative ideas, he said, including modifying the tunnel used for the DOC 200 trap for use with the A24, to prevent non-target species like weka from getting caught.

Grant said the new traps would ensure that DOC staff could divert more energy into other aspects of the recovery project at St Arnaud.

In 2010, the Government and the Green Party signed a Memorandum of Understanding and announced a $4 million trial to test self-resetting traps.

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Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson and Green Party conservation spokeswoman Eugenie Sage were at last week’s launch of the trial at St Arnaud.

More information about the traps can be found on the Good Nature website: goodnature.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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