Kaeo man Shane Hyde knows more than most about trapping possums.
And now he has designed a new device that he says will make trapping, and the use of a range of very precisely targeted poisons, much more effective than in the past.
His enviroMate 100, which is now in commercial production, is an innovative bait station that can be programmed to deliver the chosen substance, pre-feed or toxin, without any human involvement, for up to 49 days.
And it can target multiple pest species, in order or concurrently.
"For example you could programme it for a new delivery every second day for 14 days," he said.
"The first two deliveries could be the lure, the third could be cyanara cyanide for possums, and the remaining three could contain feratox for possums and rat bait.
"Two visits to the site would be needed, the first to load it and the second to remove the kill."
The device dramatically reduced the time needed for patrolling traps, enabling an individual trapper to cover a much bigger area. And he claimed it would outsmart the most poison-shy possum.
"Ecoland completed a Department of Conservation (DOC) performance-based contract in 2017 over 533ha, with the enviroMate 100 deployed and operated over 400ha with a control area of 100ha," he said.
"Possum monitors showed a 52 per cent wag tax index (WTI) at the start and 7.5 per cent at the finish. We believe such results are achievable within 14 days, with only two visits to the site.
"Rats could also have been controlled within another cycle of 14 days if toxin permission had been granted by DoC."
Fur recovery in low-density possum areas was made more economic using enviroMate on a 14-day cycle for lure delivery. Boundary control was also dramatically improved, research suggesting a 225 per cent increase in kill compared with a trap boundary checked twice weekly.
Research had also shown that a single enviroMate 100 with feratox could out-perform 10 kill traps within the same immediate area.
Hyde said enviroMate 100, which was the result of many years' research and development, would make huge inroads towards possum eradication in New Zealand, because of its efficiency, both physically and financially.
"It can be used anywhere a person can walk," he said.
"A single professional operator working in thick, difficult terrain can cover 450-500ha every 28 days."