Towards Predator-Free Taranaki's Zero Possum project was a New Zealand-first when in 2018 it set out not to simply control possum numbers but to eradicate them from a 4,500 hectare area including 2,300 hectares of the Kaitake Range, 2,000 hectares of Kaitake farmland and Oākura town.
In early 2023 the project was expanded by a further 5,000ha, moving the western boundary from the Timaru Stream to the Hangatahua/Stony River. This was made possible by additional funding from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.
With rivers acting as natural barriers on either side of this zero possum zone, the main highway for possums to enter is through a strip of forest at Pukeiti. Using technology developed by Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) we have set up an extensive trap barrier to stop incursions. Remote reporting traps have been placed every 10m in four lines – using a total of 1300 traps.
When a trap goes off, the team receives a notification so they know which trap to check.
Other tools and technologies we’ve used include cameras, possum detection dogs, thermal imaging monoculars and a “lean detection network” of about 180 traps within the Kaitake Range itself.
Seen or heard a possum in the Oākura-Kaitake area?
We want to know! Please report it by calling 0800 736 222 or go to www.trc.govt.nz/possum.
If you’re trapping at home, register with the online database Trap.NZ, via its website or app. Then record all your catches and also your trap checks (even when nothing has been caught). This makes Trap.NZ a source of valuable data tracking the region’s efforts and identifying gaps.