New transformational tools for the Predator Free 2050 effort

9 July 2020

Projects led Boffa Miskell biosecurity consultants are among those receiving funding.

New tools being developed to help boost Aotearoa’s Predator Free 2050 effort were unveiled today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

The event was held in Boffa Miskell’s Auckland office.

A new target-specific rat poison, a new long-life predator lure, a camera with predator recognition software to detect and report predators, and a reporting and communications system will receive $1.7 million in funding from Predator Free 2050 Limited backed by the Provincial Growth Fund.

Boffa Miskell biosecurity consultants Dr Lee Shapiro and Dr Helen Blackie are involved with two of the four projects.

A new toxin for rats, Norbormide, is being developed by Auckland-based company Invasive Pest Control, Boffa Miskell and the University of Auckland. Norbormide is highly toxic to rats, with low toxicity for other mammals or birds, but taste aversion has previously limited its efficacy.

Dr Lee Shapiro says. “Norbormide is a rat-selective toxicant so the risk is already low to non-target species; when you combine that with targeted delivery methods that further reduce the risk to non-target species, you’re looking at one of the safest toxicants that’s possible”.

The newly announced funding enables fast-tracking of research and development, registration, production and supply.

Boffa Miskell is developing, field testing and validating a low-cost, open-source, automated system for self-dispensing lures to rodents, mustelids and possums over long timeframes. The AutoDispense Lure dispenses an egg-mayo mix at pre-determined times over long periods.

“There’s been a big gap for awhile, as we’ve been developing long-life tools,” says Dr Helen Blackie. “We have long-life detection systems that work for twelve months; but the problem is, we haven’t had lures that are effective for that long.

“If we’ve got a lure system that operates for twelve months, the considerable expense involved in going and re-baiting those detection systems and traps disappears.”

All the funded control tools are designed to work together and enable the predators to be removed from large scale landscapes and then help defend these areas from reinvasion.

“These tools promise to supercharge the national predator free effort, help ensuring healthy forests and places for our special native plants and wildlife to flourish,” says Eugenie Sage.

“They build on the innovative work by many ingenious New Zealanders who are tackling predators. They add to the methods currently available to give indigenous nature a helping hand by controlling pests and predators.”

“We need a wide range of tools in the box – from cutting-edge camera sensors to new baits and lures; and we need to use all of them to reach the goal of Predator Free New Zealand by 2050.”

A first tranche of new generation tools was announced in November 2019 as part of a $19.5 million investment by the Provincial Growth Fund in Predator Free 2050 Limited, which manages the projects on behalf of the government.

Boffa Miskell’s long life lure blocks, also developed by Dr Helen Blackie, with field trials indicating preferred and highly effective attractant mixes, were included in the first tranche of projects.

For further information please contact Dr. Helen Blackie or Dr. Lee Shapiro