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How 4400 traps will bring kiwi back to suburban Wellington

Originally published by Amber-Leigh Woolf on Stuff.co.nz - November 12, 2018

Capital Kiwi's trapping plan will see 4400 traps set across 23,000 hectares of Wellington during the next three years.

People will be able to see the kill data from a website or a smartphone app as the slow steps towards making the land safe for kiwi again are taken.

Project founder Paul Ward said, when fully deployed, the initiative would produce the largest community-led stoat control trap network on the mainland.

"[We'll be] covering an area larger than Abel Tasman National Park."

The area will have a trap set every five hectares, which considered best practice. It is the method that successfully eradicated stoats on the Fiordland Islands.

Ward said this was the first time the trap density would be used on the mainland.

The project will use Goodnature A24 traps and DOC250 series traps. The Goodnature A24 traps are an automatic humane-kill trap designed to target stoats, while the DOC250 traps are for larger pests.

The Goodnature "chirp cap", inside each trap, will collect kill counts, location data and the temperature at each trap, then transmit the information via Bluetooth.

It will help Capital Kiwi's coordinators monitor success, and will allow them to also share their success with the community, Ward said.

"Anyone in the project area can contribute by collecting data if they have the app and are near the traps, in their backyard or beyond."

Before they can release kiwi in about three years, they will need to meet criteria set by the Department of Conservation's Kiwi Recovery Group.

"These guys are the custodians of our national bird. Primarily, this means that for a sustained period, we need to show that mustelid levels are close to zero, using best practice monitoring methods," Ward said.

Capital Kiwi would set a network of tracking tunnels across the landscape to detect pest presence.

"At the same time, the Goodnature traps will be recording strikes and these will be constantly transmitting back to us for monitoring and measurement."

How a trap is set

Each automatic Goodnature A24 trap is set on a tree or post 12cm off the ground, every 100m along tracks in farmland.

This technology and the automatic baits lures the stoats. It means they only need to be visited on the network every six months.

The DOC250 traps, for larger pests, are set in their box every 300m. They are another locally-designed trap set in a wooden box.