Remote monitoring of traps using wireless technology can be cost effective for large scale predator control where large areas of land and the type of terrain make physically checking traps impractical.
Does your project require remote monitoring?
Remote monitoring can deliver significant savings to large-scale permanent trap networks. A 2015 report by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research outlines the factors for groups to consider before investing in remote monitoring equipment. The main factors they identified were:
- the scale of the networks (the larger the network, the larger the benefits)
- the availability of long-life bait (the longer the bait life the greater the benefits)
- the capture rate (the lower the capture rate and time for traps to fill, the greater the benefit).
Additional benefits occur if volunteers (farmers/community groups) are used for checking sprung traps.
Using remote monitoring with live-capture traps may increase cost-efficiency and improve animal welfare. It must still meet the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, find the best practice guidelines from the Ministry of Primary Industry here.
Commercially available products for remote monitoring
Designed by Encounter Solutions the Celium Platform uses sensor nodes attached to traps to transmit data about their status to a central hub, then via satellite to a cellphone or laptop. The nodes are powered by 4 AA batteries. The system has been tested on a range of kill traps, live cages and traps and self-resetting traps. Their free “Trap.Watch” application and the “Celium Web Portal” can be used for keeping track of trap activities. It can also sync with other online data collection platforms.
The Econode SmartTrap is based on a sensor node trap attachment linking to a central hub using the LoRAWan IoT network. These nodes are powered by 4 AA batteries. The nodes can be used on a range of traps including the DOC200, DOC250, Trapinator, Live capture cage traps, and GoodNature A24. If necessary they will design and fit to other traps with mounting kits.
In addition to collecting information on whether the trap has been sprung the node can collect information on temperature and weather. The SmartTrap links to an ArcGIS online map and can integrate with various other online data systems. A minimum of 10 nodes is required per order.
The MinkPolice trap-monitor can be attached attached onto any type of trap where a mechanical movement is involved. These monitors send updates on trap activity to a free online interface and mobile application through the 2 G, 3 G, and 4 G mobile network. An antenna can be used to provide network coverage where mobile phones may not get reception. The trap-monitors are powered by 4 AA Lithium batteries. Find more information here.
The Xtrap monitoring device attaches to traps and is powered by 3 AAA batteries. Using the Sigfox network, the monitor sends activity reports to an online portal. The Xtrap device is designed for use with the DOC series but can also be used with the Tunn 200, Timms Possum Trap, the Trapinator and Live Cage Traps. A minimum of ten Xtrap are required per order. XTrap has been used by Towards a Pest-Free Otago Peninsula. Find more information here.
Further research into Remote Monitoring
There are other organisations exploring the potential of remote monitoring in New Zealand.
This system uses remote sensors to automatically capture and send real-time information on traps, gates and fences. Trapminder’s inventor, Gian Badraun, won WWF’s Conservation Innovation Award in 2014. The Trapminder unit is powered by solar energy and as well as capturing data on rodent activity it can collect climate data. The Trapminder is a proof of concept and is currently not available commercially. Find out more information here.