WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

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One self-resetting trap that kills both Possums and Rats

NZAutoTraps have developed a self-resetting and auto re-baiting trap that will kill both possums and rats.

That is: Using our AT220 trap any passing rat or possum will be attracted to the trap and be killed.  The trap will automatically reset, apply a new measure of fresh bait and wait for the next.

Our target for a single self-resetting AT220 trap is to kill up to 100 possums or rats over a 12 month period without servicing.

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Both rats and possums need to be exterminated to meet our 2050 pest free goal.  Both rats and possums share the same territories, however most of the control programs will have a plan and budget for rats and a plan and budget for possums, both quite separate.

Also when trapping possums rats is are nuisance.  A rat can normally enter a possum trap without triggering the trap, cleaning out the bait leaving the trap with no bait to attract the possum.

Our innovative trap will reduce the eradication cost of rats and possums by killing these two pests with the one trap.

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

One of the goals at NZAutoTraps has always been to adapt our self-resetting trap to include rats and possums within the same trap.

To achieve this we have developed two “Kill zones” within the same trap.  The main kill bar is quite like the DOC200 or DOC250 traps, a 100mm x 100mm frame that slams smaller pests like mice, rats and stoats.  To the side of the main kill bar we have added a keyhole entry for larger pests like possums and ferrets.  Adding this keyhole entry generates a second kill zone more suited to killing these larger pests.  The pressure applied to the larger pests at the bottom of the keyhole is far greater than can be achieved using the frame alone.

We are calling this trap our AT220 (for possums and rats).  It comes with all the standard features of our self-resetting kill traps: Resets 100 times, auto re-baiting, communications, data logging and 12 months between servicing.

What makes your idea new and unique?

To kill both possums and rats in the same trap is very new and the innovation is unique.  There are no existing kill traps for rats that are capable of killing a possum.  There are also no existing kill traps for possums that will detect and kill a rat.

As mentioned above a normal pest control plan would have a plan and budget for both rats and possums.  By combining these pests within the same trap we also combine their budget, in turn enabling an increase in efficiently and reduction in costs.

Adding further weight to the innovation is this concept has been adapted to our self-resetting trap range of traps.  So we not only kill both rats and possums in the same trap, we kill both lots of times and for a long time.

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

The concept of catching rats in a possum trap came about from two visions… The first we (at NZAutoTraps) could see the nuisance value that rats generated within the existing possum traps, stealing the bait, false triggering and chewing the traps.. The second vision was even simpler, if the rat is in and around the possum trap why not trap the rat as well..

Therefore any conservationist that is currently trapping possums or rats will benefit from this innovation.  These people can easily combine rats and possums in their pest control program and double their effectiveness and reduce costs.

If these same conservationist are currently using single set traps to trap possums or rats, changing to our AT220 self-resetting trap will increase their effectiveness least another 10 times with very little addition cost.

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

NZAutoTraps currently have 45 “evaluation” traps operating in the field, we have had some grateful funding from Callaghan to help us with this goal.  The evaluations are progressing very well with good catches of both rats and possums.  Trap reliability is on target and several positive improvements have been identified and implemented.

What tasks do we need investment for?  Our next step is to take this innovation from good working evaluation model to a production model.  We can’t underestimate the size and cost of the step into production, this is a big step and needs to be planned and implemented with care.  We will require advice and investors to help us step into production.

How would you spend a $25k grant?  Where do we start? As you can see our night vision cameras aren’t very good, to invest in a few more good trail cameras would help speed up development.  The rest would be used to plan our future.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?

YES

I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Privacy Policy

YES

List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

Anywhere, anytime DNA.. excites me the most.  I don’t know anything about DNA testing.  However, there are three things that springs to mine with DNA testing of anything:  1.. Delays between sample and result.  2.. The cost of a lab test.  3.. Logistics of collecting and transporting lab samples.  This appears to have all these covered. 

The WALL-E 2.0 project would be next.  Not specifically for the direct environmental impact their robot will have on cleaning the beaches but for the huge practical experience these kids will gain from designing, building, programming and commissioning a real live project with a real live goal. 

Thermal Imaging to unmask what is in my back yard… This is good, I have entered a post on their site asking if it is practical for them to interact with our trap and had a positive response.  By making their image results available to our trap in the form of an “OK to Kill” or “Don’t Kill” signal would enable us to make our kill trap more open and attractive to pests and at the same time avoid bykills by inhibiting our trap from firing while the “Don’t Kill” signal is present.

Swimming with E-COLI, like the DNA test above, having cheaper and faster testing methods can only be good. Hopefully this will give RiverWatch the tools to detect trends and act accordingly. 

Hanging Gardens of New Zealand….  I like this. I am not qualified to comment on environmental effects of vertical gardens however I can say that the feel good feeling is there.

How could you improve your idea?

Our focus at the moment is on killing both rats and possums in the same trap.  We currently have 45 "evaluation" units operating in the field, these evaluations are progressing well.  We have identified possable improvements and implemented changes as required.  We will now add another 50 traps to these in the next few weeks as a production trial.  

Feedback from our entry has been positive and very encouraging, I would like to thank all the posters for their time.

Trap efficiency as a value was raised by Brent, this will be added to our plan.  We will require help with this, I will contact both ZIP and Landcare on how and who is best to measure “Trap Efficacy” as a number.  This measuring process may highlight improvements that could be made.  We will evaluate these as they occur.

The risk of bykill was raised by Clio.  Currently the trap displayed in this award is mounted >750mm off the ground.  We will add to our plan “bykill research” to insure we are operating in the best interest of all non-target animals and birds.  We will require guidance from Clio, ZIP, DOC and Landcare on this and implement guidelines as required.

Tagged users
edited on Oct 13, 2017 by Kevin Bain

Hannah Smith 8 months ago

This looks Great!!

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Thanks for yr support, we are excited. The importance I think is overlooked, I think its because trappers trapping possums are possum trappers and trappers that trap rat or stoats are rat and stoat trappers, they are seen as two different teams. Thanks again Kevin

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Brent Beaven 8 months ago

This is conceptually a very good idea. Not only does it eliminate interference from rats (which can make a possum trap unusable), but also allows both species to be targeted at once. Did I correctly understand, that it will also deal with other small species such as stoats?
What is the power source for resetting and strike and how reliable is this? Are you achieving 100 kills yet?
The key element in this design will be the price. There are so many existing traps, that uptake will be very challenging if the price is high.
Have you managed to collect any data on efficacy? How does its capture rate compare to other kills traps. I ask this as I have seen some clever designs that animals simply wont stick their head into.
I would also be keen to hear if you have gathered any data on how quickly they kill (how humane/ NAWAC standards) and potential for by kill of non-target species.
I understand that you ay not have any of this yet, but the more you can flesh this out the more detail to assist the judges.
Good work and great thinking.
Brent

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Wo Brent you have a lot of questions in this post (which is good), I will attempt to answer some at lease.
First thanks for your opening support, it all encouraging,
Q1.. Will the trap deal with other pests.. Yes the same basic trap will kill a stoat however we are using a different housing for targeting rats and stoats. It is unlikely that a stoat would enter this trap setup.
Q2.. What is the power source etc.. “Long Life” rechargeable battery pack is the power source (8xAA pack), this powers a small geared motor. And yes we are achieving more than 100 reset cycles on a single pack.
Q3.. Price.. The possum trap as seen in the poor photo with its automatic rebaiting station is expected to sell for between $240 and $280. We haven’t yet finalised the housing design. This gives you one year running, auto rebaiting, comms, data logging etc. A kit that fits into a wooden DOC box for your rats, mice and stoats about $240. Yearly running cost is low <$5. .Is that too much $$??? Always looking for positive feed back
Q3.. Efficacy.. This is part of our current trials. One thing not mentioned in the brief is when the trap automatically rebaits it also puts a dob of bait outside the trap door, this encourages the pest to come back if its not trapped on the first pass. This appears to be working.
Q4.. Humane kill.. Yes we have data and believe we meet the NAWAC standard. It is our intension to obtain NAWAC certification later this year after we have finalised the housing.
Thanks again Brent, I hope the answers are good enough to generate your vote.
Thanks kevin

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Brent Beaven 8 months ago

Thanks Kevin. Well done on getting through all of the stages. Good luck for the judging. Brent

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Ian Brown 8 months ago

Great concept. Both pests have similar impacts on our wildlife so the more we can attarct and kill the better. Good luck with your product

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Thanks Ian

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maarten bangma 8 months ago

This trap sounds just what NZ needs to meet its commitments, not only does it target both rats and possums, but resets without intervention, and of course the real plus will be the data logging. How reliable is the data logging??

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Hi Maarten, how reliable is the data logging? So far so good, ATM we can't determine the pest type (may be later) but the date, time, temperature, count is logged with each kill. The trap brain is a STM32L0xxx, its got way more ability and data storage than we will ever need.
Thanks for you comments kevin

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Jon Dunn 8 months ago

Great initiative; the automatic resetting will intensify the battle against these pests.

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Thanks for your support Jon

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James Wilson 8 months ago

It is a great concept to have a trap that deals with Possums and Rats in the same trap and to have it resetting and rebaiting. From the photos it is difficult to see if the two traps have the same outer box and difficult to see how the DOC200 fits in the box. I wish you well and look forward to hearing more in the future about your developments

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Good morning James.
Yes the outer boxes in the two photos are the same size, one is clear the other is white (clear lid) is the only difference (same tree, different angle). I think I have cropped the RH photo wrong, squashing its height a bit.

Re: the DOC200 position. Its sits accross the bottom of the box. It might be good to add a clearer labelled sketch or photo in my review??

Does anyone have review pointers??
I take constructive feedback with enthusiasm!!

... I will enclude a few more photos
... Maybe a labelled sketch??
... Maybe detail on how we detect both small and large pests, I guess its all part of the innovation??
... I have answered a few questions Brent raised, should any of these questions and answers be massaged into my review??
... If I'm not carefull will I loose clarity of the goal or actual innovation??

Thanks for your comments
kevin

PS I'm excited we got the 30 votes from you guys (and girls), this gives us a huge boost and a 2nd chance.

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Kevin Chubb 8 months ago

This looks like a great innovation, and being able to "hit two rodent pests with one stone" makes this a winner in my book. Good luck, Kevin Chubb

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Thanks Chubby your support is great for us

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Maureen Cassey 8 months ago

We have a test/evaluation programme with Kevin's Auto traps within a 42ha QE2 covenant on a S. Waikato Coastal farm. Very encouraging results.
Pehimatea Farm Partnership.

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

We all need to thank teams like Maureen and Russell. They have been very helpful and encouraging of our project. Making their picture perfect farm and QE2 block available for our evaluation trials.

Thanks Maureen and Russell

Kevin, George and NZAutoTraps

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Clio Reid 8 months ago

Hi Kevin, this is a really interesting project. I just wanted to comment on the risk of bykill (apologies if this subject has already been covered at a previous stage of the Innovation Awards process). If it's not something you've already considered in your design, it will need to be worked into it before the traps deployed in areas where certain non-target species live. Three species that I'm aware of are especially at risk of being killed in predator traps: weka (if traps are near the ground or otherwise accessible to these birds), kaka and kea. From your photos it looks like it would be possible for at least a kea or kaka to stick their head inside the housing. The trick can be to find a way that excludes these non-target species without excluding possums and rats. There's info on the web about how other trap designers have addressed this problem, and you should be able to get advice and help as you go.
Best of luck with your design, I look forward to seeing seeing its progress.

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Good morning Clio
Yes bykills need TLC. Currently this trap is as open at the bottom as any of the existing possum kill traps. We do have the trap about 1.2m off the ground and as you may see in the night shots we are using a foot stool to make it as easy as possible for the rat or possum. This foot stool may need to be removed when the trap is set within a weka etc area. We will be guided by the uses here.

One bykill prevention the trap has available is a daytime inhibit function where the trap will not activate during a pre-set time. We have not had the trap in areas where this might be required but we are keen on feedback and testing of the daytime inhibit function.

I wont include the daytime inhibit in my review, it's effectiveness hasn't been tested and it will complicate the entry.

Thanks for your feed back
kevin

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Chris Muller 8 months ago

Hi Kevin,
Great idea! This should go a long way towards winning the Battle for the Birds!
Does each trap need to be manually set up, or could they be air-dropped into remote areas or difficult terrain?
Does the trap need to be visited to download the data from it? This could be a great opportunity to collaborate! My project (The Drone Ranger) is a drone with a multi-frequency radio receiver onboard, so if the traps could broadcast a radio signal the drone could download information from traps as it flies overhead. This could be useful for monitoring traps in the back country where it’s hard to get to.

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Hi Chris, I like your thinking!
Yes I believe our trap could be dropped from the air and operate without intervention. Our target service plan ATM is 12 months then 24 months. However “I have a dream”… As soon as we have our 24 month service plan robust there will be very little stopping us (with help WWF etc) from achieving 5 or even 10 years without servicing. Now we have a cool tool for the difficult terrain.

“Does our trap need to be visited to down load data?” Right now yes it does need to be visited but only because we have issues with software developers (I won’t go there ATM). However the plan is to have the trap "wakeup" at pre-set intervals, say 7:00am daily or weekly, and “listen” for any comms requests, if comms requests are received the trap will respond accordingly then return to “sleep”. Currently we are using a 433MHz transceiver sending/receiving RS232 type messages. We also have a spot for a WiFi module, either of these comms modules could be substituted for anything that made comms to your drone easier.

So the short version, yes I do believe we have the capability to communicate with an overhead drone.

Thanks Chris, I would be excited to talk about this further.
Kevin

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Chris Muller 8 months ago

Hi Kevin, thanks for the info. I think there’s a great opportunity to collaborate here! At the moment the Drone Ranger has a receiver rather than a transceiver so it is designed to receive VHF radio signals rather than transmit them (this was a conscious decision made to keep the weight down and therefore improve range and flight time). We are planning to add the ability to decode signals from programmable VHF transmitters (which use variations to pulse rate and signal patterns to send info). There is also a short-range wi-fi onboard. Somewhere in there, or maybe with the addition of a lightweight comms module I’m sure we could arrive at a solution! Let’s keep in touch.

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Andrew Lee 8 months ago

Great idea, why deal with two or three pests individually when it can be done with one device, makes for way better economics and human resource management. Also like the data logger aspect of it.

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Thanks Andrew

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Gerald Dickinson 8 months ago

Hi Kevin,
I see you need a set of "eyes" to determine animal type so killing non-targets is minimised. This is the space I am working (thermal sensor to detect and differentiate different pests) , I saw your comment in another post and it is possible to combine the two devices, your trap and the pest identifier. Let me know if this could be an option.

On a second note, I see you use the STM32L0xxx device how do you find the power consumption of the device and associated electronics. What could be the typical battery life? and how easy is it to recharge/swap batteries in the field.
Gerald

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Hi Gerald
No we dont "need" a set of eyes to determine animal type, the enclosure and its mounting limits the non-target from entering. However we could make the enclosure less complicated with the aid of thermal sensors to identify the animal at the door and act accordingly. So yes I also see a possiblities here, lets talk soon.

I think the STM32L0 is a good choice. ATM the standby current is 0.023ma (total assembled PCB and eye), we standby for 600ms, wakeup for 3ms to run the eye and check IO. When we get a chance and $$ we should be able to 1/2 both the standby current and wakeup time. Our first target is 12 months, I think we are there OK, the second target is 24 months or more.

The battery pack holds 8x AA long life rechargable batteries (2800mAh), this pack has a short cable and plug, its very easy to replace, very easy to handle.

Talk soon, kevin

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Becky Wilson 8 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Thanks Becky.
PS: Can you please ask the tech team the fix my photos, the bottom two are half missing.
Thanks
Kevin

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Post test

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Kevin Bain 8 months ago

Hi all. Im not sure what I have done but all my comments have disapeared.
I have noticed you can read the comments can be read from your mobile Ph.
Also sorry, the two photos below the night time photos are only half displayed.
I hope these will be fix by the crodicity tech team soon.

Thanks
kevin

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