$90,000 donation funds more predator traps in Arrowtown

by Lauren Pattemore - Jan 24, 2024

A large donation by Sir Michael Hill and his family to the Southern Lakes Sanctuary has made the installation of 60 new high-tech predator traps in native forest possible.  

The new AT220 traps will be set up in Arrowtown's Bush Creek this summer, where an initial 25 traps are already in operation and have killed 3,000 possums since the organisation first began installing traps in September 2022.

Southern Lakes Sanctuary project director Paul Kavanagh says the technology of the traps is "genuinely game-changing" and from their own figures, catches 7,000 percent more pests than a standard box trap.

The AT220 traps are designed specially for New Zealand's bush, with remote monitoring, AI camera and the ability to self-reset 100 times, plus automatically rebait itself every night. 

Mr Kavanagh says the traps have "phenomenal" potential for large-scale improvements to the natural environment, and are more efficient as they do not need to be monitored as often by staff.

"Whilst the set-up costs for this very effective trapping method is relatively high, the ongoing maintenance and servicing of these traps is very low, so over the life of the trap the returns on investment are far superior to traditional traps and far more effective.”

He says without the "generous support" from the Hill family it would not have been possible to achieve outcomes of this size and scale on their trapping network.

Sir Michael Hill says he and his family are thrilled to be able to contribute to a local conservation project that combines hard work with advances in technology.

“It is fantastic to be supporting a project and organisation that is making such dramatic progress to enhance our natural environment,” he says.

“To hear that the New Zealand-made traps we have supported have so far removed more than 3,000 possums from a small area near Arrowtown is significant, and we look forward to helping the Southern Lakes Sanctuary continue this incredible work for years to come.”

Southern Lakes Sanctuary also has an expanding its network of traps on the face of Coronet Peak.

The conservation organisation's efforts were initially supported by the government’s Jobs for Nature programme, but it is now seeking an annual contribution of $1.5 million to sustain its work.

Main image (Supplied): From left to right, Southern Lakes Sanctuary Whakatipu coordinator Bonnie Wilkins, Michael Hill, and project manager Paul Kavanagh.

An earlier version of this story said the AT220 traps catch 70 percent more pests than a standard box trap, this has been corrected to 7,000 percent.

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