Cacophony traps are catching lots of predators
The Cacophony project continues to test the high interaction rate trap. In their latest update about the trap about a month ago they shared that they now have 10 traps being tested around the Canterbury region.
Each of these traps has a thermal camera pointed at it. This allows them to see exactly what animals come close to the trap, how they interact with it and gives them information on how they can improve the design. It also makes for exciting viewing being able to see what is caught in the traps each morning. We put together this compilation video showing some of the animals caught over a two week period. This includes lots of possums, feral cats and hedgehogs.
One trap caught 13 possums over 2.5 weeks of trapping. This is in a area that has caught 1-2 possums over the previous year using a raft of standard traps. The encouraging thing we are seeing is that a large proportion of the animals caught on the camera are interacting with the trap, as high as 50%. Cacophony's modelling shows that an interaction rate of 9% could result in elimination, rather than suppression of predators.
The testing allows the Cacophony engineers to get an idea on the reliability of the trap and make adjustments to the design. One thing they have been testing is using a trap with two cages. The idea here is that a caught animal may attract another animal. We have seen a mother possum hanging around a trap when the joey has been caught. This was at a trap with just one cage.
Interestingly we haven't had any examples of catching more than one animal with these two cage traps. The time of year may have an impact. We will keep testing.
One of the other things the Cacophony team found with their testing is that sometimes the trap would trigger with a non target, small animal such as a mouse that would then escape. This was frustrating because we would then see other animals visit the closed trap. To address this they have added a prototype auto resetting mechanism that automatically opens the blinds on the trap after 10 minutes. By this time any animal that was caught has normally moved to the cages at the back.
We have also created our first manual for the trap