New pest lures to protect nature

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is investing $1.4 million to develop new predator lures that would be game-changers for trapping and surveillance towards a predator-free Aotearoa, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage, announced in Christchurch today.

The proposal is to develop long-life lures attractive to a range of predators—rats, mustelids and feral cats—for use in traps and predator monitoring equipment such as tracking tunnels.

“In New Zealand we currently rely on food-based baits or lures for trapping such as peanut butter. They generally only attract one or two types of predators and quickly degrade becoming unattractive,” said Eugenie Sage.

“Being able to use convenient compound-based lures to attract most predators for long periods, would be a game changer for trapping and predator detection.

“Such lures would be a boon to volunteers and professional trappers alike. They could be used across a range of traps and monitoring devices that target different predators. They would also allow traps to be serviced less frequently, saving time and money. They would also make predator surveillance in remote places easier.

“We need new tools and technologies for humane, effective and affordable predator control to enable our native wildlife and plants to thrive,” she said.

Led by Dr Michael Jackson, the University of Canterbury project is to develop multi-species predator lures, effective for 6-12 months. The non-toxic lures will be made from compounds identified in foods and animals’ social odours, encased in a small portable device to slowly release over time.

The influence of different foods and social odours on the behaviour of seven predator species—stoats, ferrets and weasels, Norway, ship and kiore/Pacific rats, and feral cats—will be tested. Potential compounds will then be identified and tested, including blends of promising compounds. Proven compounds will be evaluated in field trials with partner groups using a range of traps, tracking tunnels and emerging ‘smart’ monitoring devices capable of working remotely.     

DOC’s Tools to Market programme will invest $1.4 million in the lures over three years.

The project builds on the researcher’s previous successful development of a long-life lure for rats - a world-first for a mammal - previously funded by DOC. These lures, developed at Victoria University of Wellington, are currently being commercialised by Wellington UniVentures.

The lure joins a proposal funded earlier this year to test the capability of a specially designed drone to apply cereal baits for predator control. Another proposal for funding is still under consideration.

“This Government is supporting the research sector and innovative companies to develop break-through technologies, which can then be brought to market, to help restore our indigenous biodiversity.”

The Government initially allocated the Tools to Market programme $700,000 per year over four years. Budget 2018 committed an extra $700,000 over four years (total $5.6 million).

DOC received 56 applications for the current Tools to Market funding round after a call for registrations of interest in May 2019. 

Five projects have previously been funded through Tools to Market in 2017 and 2018 and are in development including a long-life rat lure and PAWS® pest identification sensor pad.

Latest Conservation Announcements

Story

Green Party commits to stronger urban tree protection and no new mines on public conservation land

The Green Party is the only party in Parliament which is explicitly committing to protecting public conservation land and the indigenous plants and...
Read More

Story

Green Party releases tourism policy

Today the Green Party’s conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage went kayaking on Akaroa Harbour to highlight the greater protection achieved for Hec...
Read More

Story

Greens would go further and faster for kauri protection

The Green Party says Labour’s commitment to protecting kauri is a good start, but the Greens would go further and faster to keep our kauri standing.
Read More

Story

Greens commit to protecting Kauri

If re-elected, the Green Party will focus $50 million of the existing Jobs for Nature package to keep Aotearoa’s iconic kauri forests standing.   “...
Read More

Story

Conservation Minister plants two millionth tree in Raglan restoration

A long-term conservation project led by the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group in the western Waikato reaches a significant milestone this week, with th...
Read More

Story

NZ’s most prestigious conservation award – Loder Cup presented to Graeme Atkins

The Minister of Conservation Minister, Eugenie Sage, today presented Aotearoa New Zealand’s most prestigious conservation award, the Loder Cup, to ...
Read More