Hawke’s Bay farmers are taking part in a predator control trial using game-changing technology.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Land Services Manager Campbell Leckie said the trial, starting in late October, will see 200 predator traps armed with wireless monitoring technology trialled throughout Hawke’s Bay.
The trial is part of Cape to City, which is a wide scale predator control and ecological restoration programme covering over 26,000ha of land between Hastings and Cape Kidnappers.
Mr Leckie said a small trial of the wireless technology was undertaken earlier this year, and after some modifications, the next stage is now ready to begin involving farmers, landowners and restoration groups in up to eight rural areas between Mahia and Central Hawke’s Bay.
The trial will test the connectivity of the wireless technology in a range of environments and climates, as well as establishing the best way and how often users are notified that the traps have been activated.
“Wireless technology will make it much more efficient for farmers to clear and check traps. Rather than having to regularly check every trap, they will only have to check the ones that have been activated. The new traps have long life lures and a wireless transponder which sends a text message or an email notifying where and when the trap has gone off,” says Mr Leckie.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Predator Control Specialist, Pouri Rakete-Stones, and his team will monitor the trial and make sure farmers find it easy and safe to use the traps.
“We will be working closely with the landowners participating in the trial to see what works for them and what improvements could be made,” he says
Another aim is to significantly reduce the cost of ongoing pest control through the wireless networking of traps, along with the long life lures. Currently the cost of maintaining predator control can be up to $75 per hectare.
The wireless technology has been developed by Simon Croft of Encounter Solutions. A wireless sensor on the trap sends a message to the land owner when it has been activated, which saves regular checking and maintenance.
“This technology is game-changing. Trap maintenance visits can now be targeted, saving valuable time and money,” says Mr Rakete-Stones.
The traps will then be rolled out during the first half of 2016 to landowners participating in the Cape to City project and at no cost.
The programme has been developed following the success of similar programme in Northern Hawke’s Bay, Poutiri Ao ō Tāne, and HBRC’s possum control programme.
Cape to City is a five-year, $6 million project which is a partnership between HBRC, DOC, Cape Sanctuary, Landcare Research, various landowners and businesses as well as iwi and hapū. The project has funding from the Aotearoa Foundation.