To bait, or to trap?
There are pros and cons that come with any predator control method. What works best for you will depend on:
- Your target area. Is it small/large, populated, easy to access, with clear boundaries?
- Your target species, e.g. possums, rodents. Are you targeting more than one species?
- Which non-target species (including livestock, native wildlife, pets, etc.) are in the area.
- Your skill level and experience with different handling methods – i.e. using bait stations vs. setting traps – and the local knowledge you build up of the place(s) you are working in over time.
- Any aspects that you or others find challenging, e.g. an organic property will not want to use toxins; some people don’t want to handle carcasses.
- Obtaining any necessary permits if using baits.
However, predator control doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Varying your methods from time to time can reduce the risk of your target species becoming bait shy (refusing old bait or consuming sub-lethal doses). Often a toolbox approach is best because many target predators will have individual preferences – they may prefer a bait station over a trap or vice-versa, or they may have had a bad experience with a toxin, trap or bait station.
Whichever method(s) you choose it’s important to follow best practice, read the manufacturer’s instructions, and check that you’ve acquired any necessary permits or approval. For area-specific advice on which control method to use, contact your local landcare group, council or DOC office. Local pest control contractors also often have good knowledge of what works best.
- Less potentially hazardous than toxins, e.g. avoids non-target effects and accumulation in the environment, but can cause serious injury when used by untrained people.
- Easy to manage over small areas, e.g. small reserves and backyards.
- Some brands have been tested against and met the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) guidelines (find out more). As a general rule, if you are working on a community project (especially ones where traps are visible to the public), NAWAC-approved traps should always be used.
- Self-resetting traps can be very useful in remote locations or on properties that are not permanently occupied.
- You always know you have caught something, versus a bait station where you just see eaten bait.
- Can be time-consuming to set and monitor across large areas.
- Live capture traps, e.g. cage traps, require checking every 24 hours.
- Once a trap has been set off, it is unable to catch anything else until it is re-set.
- For some people, removing carcasses from traps can be stressful.
- Costs add up if buying a large number of traps and tunnels.
- Ineffective if traplines are too far apart and/or not regularly monitored, or where predator density is high (unless using self-resetting traps).
- Effective over large, sparsely-populated areas.
- Fast-acting second generation (single feed) baits such as Brodifacoum can be effective for initial ‘knockdown’ phase if predator density is high.
- Can save time, resources and money for large-scale predator control.
- When correctly set up to the right densities, and maintained and serviced properly, bait stations keep on working and can control multiple rats and possums with one bait application.
- Potential risks of toxins to non-target species, including livestock and pets.
- Prolonged use of some toxins can build up in the environment.
- Target species can become ‘bait shy’ if toxins are overused, left to go rotten, or delivered in sub-lethal doses.
- Relevant training and permits may be required. Acute toxins such as cyanide require a Controlled Substances Licence (CSL) and require a significant level of practical experience to use safely and effectively.
Commonly-used bait stations include Philproof, Pestoff and Sentry. View our list of bait station suppliers.