Automated traps working hard over summer! - Predator Free Whangarei

Automated traps working hard over summer!

The Possum Free Whangārei Heads team were pleasantly surprised with what they discovered upon return from the summer break.

Written by Zac Coffin, Biosecurity Field Officer

The self-resetting AT220 traps were ready for a stunner of a summer this season for the possum eradication project at Whangārei Heads! 

It is exciting for the project to be using one of the latest technologies in the industry in an area suspected to have lots of possums, made by NZ Autotraps.

In the delicate coastal environments around Ocean Beach, we have sensitive native grass species, such as spinifex spp., carex spp., and pingao of which possums browse on their fresh summertime shoots. 

It is important we protect coastal grass species because they play a key part in dune stabilisation and it provides habitat for our native shorebirds, lizards, and invertebrates.  

To combat this, we are deploying one of our most technically advanced tools – the AT220 – which is a self-resetting and self-reluring kill trap capable of capturing over 100 animals within 12 months!  

As there are minimal trees on this coastal strip AT220s are installed on a waratah with a ramp to encourage possum activity, but steep enough to discourage kiwis from reaching it.

Along with the seasonal impacts, this area has long been speculated as a possum housing area, as there has been less pest control done in this strip. This speculation was first confirmed when three were caught within four days of activating a live leghold trap in the coastal dunes!

Since deployment in November, we have had over 30 possums caught on AT220s from a relatively small area of the coastal dunes. Some individual traps saw several possums freshly fallen victim to the iron jaws of the AT220s sophisticated self-resetting mechanism – paying ode to the fact possums do not shy away easily from their peers’ fatal mistakes. The biggest clearing of a trap saw 6 possums within a fortnightly checkup.

As we continue to monitor and maintain these brilliant devices, we hope to see possum numbers drop off to minimal encounters – giving our fragile coastal environment the well needed respite from these pesky browsing marsupials.

February 2, 2023