New transformational tools for the Predator Free 2050 effort

New tools being developed to help boost Aotearoa’s Predator Free 2050 effort were unveiled today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

A new rat poison, a camera with predator recognition software to detect and report predators, a new predator lure and a reporting and communications system will receive $1.7 million in funding from Predator Free 2050 Limited backed by the Provincial Growth Fund.

 

“These tools promise to supercharge the national predator free effort, help ensuring healthy forests and places for our special native plants and wildlife to flourish,” says Eugenie Sage.

“New developments by innovative New Zealand companies are creating jobs and have potential to reach international markets,” says Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

“These new tools build on the innovative work by many ingenious New Zealanders who are tackling predators. They add to the methods currently available to give indigenous nature a helping hand by controlling pests and predators,” said Eugenie Sage.  

“We need a wide range of tools in the box - from cutting edge camera sensors to new baits and lures, and we need to use all of them to reach the goal of Predator Free New Zealand by 2050,” she said.

All the control tools are designed to work together and enable the predators to be removed from large scale landscapes and then help defend these areas from reinvasion.

A first tranche of new generation tools was announced in November 2019 as part of a $19.5 million investment by the Provincial Growth Fund in Predator Free 2050 Limited, which manages the projects on behalf of the government.

The first tranche of new tools included:

  • NZ Autotraps’ AT 220 self-resetting rat and possum trap, now redesigned and being produced from a new factory in Whakatāne;
  • the “Remove and Protect” suite of products, recently used in the successful removal of possums from the 17,000 ha Perth River Valley in South Westland and now being supplied to other projects; 
  • the air-powered “Hammerforce” resetting possum and stoat traps, with prototypes ready for pen and cage trials;
  • Boffa Miskell’s long life lure blocks, with field trials indicating preferred and highly effective attractant mixes; and
  • Environment and Conservation Technology’s “Spitfire” self-resetting toxin delivery device, undergoing design tweaks to improve serviceability following successful pen, cage and field trails.

The funding is designed to take promising new tools from development to production within three years.

Predator Free 2050 Limited also co-funds ambitious landscape scale predator free projects around New Zealand, with current projects in Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Waiheke Island, Dunedin, D’Urville Island, the West Coast and Whakatāne, removing possums, stoats and rats over 90,000 hectares.

Background information on the second tranche of new tools to be funded. These include:

A new toxin for rats, Norbormide, being developed by Auckland-based company Invasive Pest Control, Boffa Miskell and the University of Auckland. Norbormide is highly toxic to rats compared with other mammals or birds, but taste aversion has previously limited its efficacy. New chemical synthesis to limit impurities and improve bait palatability has shown promising results with Norway and ship rats. The funding enables researchers to fast-track research and development, registration, production and supply.

Zero Invasive Predators is developing a highly sensitive, back country camera, with on-board artificial intelligence analysis software to identify predators and auto-report their presence. The device is designed as a critical ground-based tool for detecting predators. The first versions will target stoat and possum identification.

A self-dispensing lure. Boffa Miskell is developing, field testing and validating a low cost, open-source, automated system for dispensing lures to rodents, mustelids and possums over long timeframes. The AutoDispense Lure dispenses an egg-mayo mix at pre-determined times over long periods.

Red Fern Solutions of Christchurch is developing a remote data reporting and management system to process inputs from traps and monitoring devices, and transmit data to the cloud using Bluetooth, Wifi, cellular, and satellite communications. This ‘Flexi-comms’ system aims to be a market leader through the capability to transmit images from remote cameras. 

Background information on Predator Free 2050:

Information on Predator Free 2050 Limited’s Products to Projects initiative - https://pf2050.co.nz/products-to-projects/

Information about Predator Free 2050 Limited’s investments in large landscape projects around New Zealand - https://pf2050.co.nz/project

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