Macraes Flat is an area in central Otago that includes both historic and modern-day gold mines, and two species of endangered, endemic New Zealand Skink. In a trial from 2005 to 2008 four thousand hectares of intensive predator trapping and thirty hectares of fenced enclosures reversed the decline of both the Grand and the Otago Skink, trapping remains at the heart of their gradual recovery.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation, working out of their Macraes Flat Field Base, found that kill traps alone could not adequately suppress predator numbers, leg-hold traps or cages are far more effective. The Animal Welfare Act, however, requires that these traps are checked daily, and rangers were often checking completely empty trap lines in trying conditions. There had to be a better way and one that complied with Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) guidelines.
After researching overseas and local New Zealand options the team leader at Macraes Flat, Patrick Liddy, engaged Encounter Solutions to trial the Celium Network on a third of their live capture traps. He only wanted to check traps that were sprung and ensure the operation complied with the MPI guidelines.
What he found was that the monitoring solution reduced trap checks by 75% and once fully deployed will pay for itself in less than 3 years. Along with staff hours, petrol and associated vehicle costs savings, there will be reduced degradation of vehicle access tracks, the ability to extend the trapping season into the fringe winter months and a general improvement in working conditions and animal welfare.