Best way to kill Stoats but avoid danger to Kiwi?

Hi.
We have 150Ha of native bush in Northland, which has some Kiwi present. We are currently trapping possums successfully with raised AT220’s, but we now want to also kill stoats.
What is the best way to kill the stoats?
We are very paranoid about using traps that might also catch Kiwi. Do we need to raise the traps up above the ground to avoid the risk to Kiwi?
We are also considering poison bait stations. Is there any risk to Kiwi or other birds from using bait stations? What is the best technique and product to use?
Thanks very much for any help!
Dave

Hey Dave give the partnerships team a call at NRC and we can help you out with all of your questions and provide further advice/funding if necessary.

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Thanks Bevan. I’ll do that. Cheers Dave

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Please post a summary of your conclusions for the forum to benefit too. Cheers!

If you ever use A24’s, they have to be mounted at least 70cm above the ground, otherwise kiwi can injure their bills inside them. Personally, I’d go for 80cm, just to play it safe. AT220’s will have to mounted above the ground, like A24’s, to keep kiwi and weka safe. Stoats and weasels are both very good climbers, so they’ll visit AT220’s, but the % of stoats killed in them may not be high. You’re going to need a significant number of ground traps, mainly DoC 200 double-sets, in order to control stoats.

Mustelids are very attracted to fresh rabbit, but it doesn’t stay good for very long in summer. To keep traps attractive for longer, the majority of trappers use salted rabbit and/or Erayz, a rabbit jerky that comes in blocks, which stays good for quite a while. It’s also attractive to rats, and mice have difficulty eating Erayz, due to its texture. Small rodent activity inside tunnels is beneficial when trapping stoats and weasels, because females eat large numbers of them when they’re raising their kits. As they come and go, mice leave scent-trails, so they lead stoats and weasels right to the tunnel. When new tunnels are sited, give them a pre-feed to encourage rodent activity, in order to make them seem more natural to stoats. A friend of mine knows a trapper that puts his tunnels inside his barn and fills them with food to encourage lots of rodent activity. When they go in the bush, they’re already lured, and he gets kills much faster than he used to with clean tunnels.

You don’t have to use fresh or preserved rabbit lures, because stoats have a wide range of prey. One pro swears by fresh, bloody venison, but you can use other things, like chicken necks, pilchards, bush pork, possum, etc. Close to home, I’ve trapped a number of stoats and weasels using freshly-killed rats.

Hens’ eggs are a commonly-used visual lure, but they can be punctured. The problem is that it’s difficult to find white eggs, which are far easier to see than brown ones, of course. Some trappers use golf balls or ping pong balls, instead, because they’re bright white. Long-term, they’re cheaper than using eggs, you only have to transport them once, and disposing of rotten eggs is one less nasty job to do.

If you kill a stoat or weasel, and the body’s still fresh, place it in the rear of the tunnel, because it’s a very powerful visual, olfactory, and social lure. Rub the body on and inside the tunnel, and try to expel some musk and/or urine on to the tunnel. This is especially-effective during mating season, but stoats are territorial the rest of the year, so the sight and smell of another stoat in their territory is a good way to trap them. Last year, I trapped a pair of adult female stoats in a DoC 200 double-set. The second stoat entered the tunnel in an attempt to chase the first one out of its territory.

I hope that this helps, but bear in mind that I’m an amateur trapper, so don’t follow my advice if a pro tells you something different!

Cheers.

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Thanks for that info. Very helpful. It sounds like a bunch of ground-based DOC200 traps are the best option for stoat control. (With no risk to birds like kiwis)
I’ve ordered 4 to try out, along with some erayz bait.
Cheers Dave

I hope that you have some success. Summer is the time to trap stoats and weasels, so getting a few traps going soon would be a good idea.

In case you’re new to DOC traps and tunnels, this is a good video to watch, and DOC has a series of videos on Youtube about the traps.
Predator Control Tips & Tricks: Getting the best out of your DOC 200 trap - YouTube

Time permitting…
PFNZ Trust Lockdown Webinar #2: Expert trapping tips with Cam Speedy - YouTube

I was looking at starting another thread - but will add my thoughts here - as this is pertinent to all.
@davetrapper I’m also new to this process (3 years - still an amaateur !) and we have just recently gone through a big learning curve.
The DOC200 and BT200 traps are set to fire at between 85-100 grams. They can be adjusted to fire at a lesser weight and the advice we have been given is to have them firing at 80 grams.

When you order your traps ask for 2 things:
(a) traps that trigger at 80 grams and
(b) assurance that the supplier have quality control in place for checking these traps function correctly.

We recently purchased 60 double set traps - and audited these with a set of calibrated weights.
Of these 60 box sets (120 traps) less than 50% fired off at 100 grams or less (this was good), 25% of the traps fired at over 100 grams (not good), and just over 25% would not fire at all i.e. poor trap placement inside the box (very poor). So check your traps before you carry them out and set them up in the field.

Just be aware that also with double sets - you may get both sets firing when one trap goes off (one trap can trigger the other trap to fire - vibration effect). They need to be well bedded into the ground (not wobbly).
As @willowflat_warrior noted there is a range of good data / advice available to assist you. And don’t be afraid to ask - we are all learning.

Thanks eric007, that all sounds like very good advice. I’m receiving my (single) stoat DOC200 traps over the next few days. (some from Connovation, some from www.meg.org.nz), so I’ll test fire them and maybe also measure the sensitivity.

For anybody trying to calibrate their traps, a set like this works great (but it doesn’t have to be this specific set from this specific store).
Precision Calibration Weights | Trade Me Marketplace

Arm the trap, attach the safety clip, and the treadle will dip when you’ve hit the right weight. Below are 2 good videos detailing how to alter 150’s and 200’s.

From the designer himself
Predator Control Tips & Tricks: DOC 200 (Calibrating) - YouTube

How to properly calibrate the spring off weight of a DOC 200 - YouTube

Every now and then, I take the weights with me to my traps to see if they’re still firing correctly.

Instead of using a stick to set off a trap, make something that mimics the size of a rat that’s soft. I ball up an old sock and attach it to a stick.

Regarding sympathetic-firing, the best way to avoid this is to leave 1 of the traps unattached to the base of the tunnel. Place the loose trap on top of a soft, shock-absorbing material. Pieces of an reasonably-thick old beach towel has worked for me. I keep a sock with me that I toss onto the treadle to disarm the unmounted one. Arm the loose trap on top of the lid, attach a safety clip, put it on the towel, and remove the clip.

Hi. I just wanted to give a progress report.
We put out 8 stoat traps (single DOC200) on Saturday. There were placed nearish to our existing 8 possum AT220 traps (which have caught about 100 possums over 3 months). We used Erayz and plastic eggs from Connovation as lures.
No stoats have been caught yet, but as my son said “Surely it is good news if there are none caught since there must be none there! And surely it is also good news if we catch many since then we are making a difference!” ?

Good work! It’s pretty satisfying to get new hardware in place, set, and baited eh?

It can be very much a game of patience when trapping stoats, just make sure the traps are always in a delicious and deadly state and sooner or later you will get one.

I too like the idea of setting near the AT220’s the extra lure and rat/mice wreckage can only help your chances of pulling in a stoat.

Go for pierced real eggs if you can, even if its just a couple of the closer traps.

Unfortunately, stoats are often wary of traps, so it’s unwise to assume that there aren’t any in your trapping area just because you haven’t killed any. Trust me, you have to be really patient trapping mustelids. If stoats explore your tunnels, they won’t necessarily get trapped, either, because they’re so clever and agile.

Putting your DOC 200 tunnels close to your AT-220’s is a good idea, because predators will make regular trips to them to scavenge kills. If a stoat visits an AT-200 that hasn’t made a kill, it may go for whatever’s in the DOC tunnel, instead.

When you do kill one (and it’s still in decent condition), place the stoat in the back of the tunnel, because it will lure other stoats to it. Rub its fur on the timber before you move it. If possible, express some musk out of its anal glands, putting some on to the entrance and rear of the tunnel. Musk isn’t the nicest smell around, but a rotten rat or rotten meat/fish smells way, way worse!

In addition to the Erayz, I’d use some of Goodnature’s Blood Lure, which I’ve found to be very effective at attracting all predator species. Put some on rocks, trunks, posts along your lines, and then put some on the entrance and rear of your tunnels and some inside them.

Good luck.

Great job, think about the box placement they love running along old trunks on the ground and through natural channeling points. Put their musk well into the box as they like to dwell on that point.
I also use a mouse trap inside the box if triggered it gives you a good fresh bait source. Make sure it can’t jump up and land on the main trap!!
I’ve also set my AT220 sites as a multiple trap site area. With good success with feral cats once you know they are returning nightly to munch on the kills.

Sean

I’ve been able to place mice on the far side of the treadle, with the tail pointing towards the entrance. If a scavenger wants it, they’ll have a tough time removing it without getting killed. So far, I’ve either had a kill, or the mouse hasn’t been touched by anything. It’s a really good way to kill brown/Norway rats, if they’re in your trapping area, because they can be really difficult to trap.

I mount a T-Rex rat trap to the base of a tunnel with screws, preventing it from striking the treadle. In order to prevent theft from the T-Rex, I squeeze a small piece of Erayz into the bait cup. Insects and invertebrates haven’t been a problem, and I’ve never had any stolen, which only highly-skilled predators could manage to do. When removing an old piece, I have to use a screwdriver, so it’s no surprise that mouse paws aren’t up to the task!

Mice and small rats have to put themselves in more dangerous positions than normal to reach the lure, because their only option is to nibble on the firm Erayz. They move around more when they’re trying to eat it, and spend more time at the trap, so the kill-rate explodes compared to using a soft lure like PB or Nutella. With Erayz, the rat T-Rex becomes a mouse and rat trap. Also, a piece of Erayz can stay good in a bait cup for a long time, too, unlike a softer lure.

To prevent the Erayz getting moldy in wet weather, I give it a spray with white vinegar, which the rodents here are very fond of. Just avoid spraying the springs! I found that out hard the way, so I’m more careful, now. Another option is to give the Erayz a coating of Goodnature’s Blood Lure, which gives it a long-lasting shield from the weather. If a predator manages to lick off the Blood lure off the Erayz without setting off the trap, it will probably try to eat the Erayz, as well. For whatever reason, insects and invertebrates don’t have much interest in Blood Lure, but rodents and mustelids love the stuff!

The T-Rex is the best trap for this job, IMO, because it’s easier, and safer, to set the trap when it’s inside the tunnel, and it already has holes drilled at the rear for mounting it.

Do you place a Timms by the AT220 for the cat, or do you hunt them? Either way, good luck!

BTW, if you’re looking for a good bait for Timms traps, pork rind is excellent, because it has such a firm texture. Firm enough that I’ve trapped 3 large brown rats in my Timms since I started using it! Be ver careful preparing it, because you’ll need to create x-shaped holes in the rind, otherwise you won’t be able to skewer it.

A lot of cool tips and i will be trying them. When I see cat sign I hunt them straight away using live capture, leg holds and rifle. Leg-holds if carcass has been chewed on, I form a channeling point to carcass with leg hold in front works very well, but has to be monitored. If I see cat poo I set up live capture trap set it like a den with only entrance visible what ever you are using as bait is spread around entrance with an attractor ( feather, fur visible) works every time. If I see cat sign on a kill in an open paddock I set up game camera get the time of visit and turn up and shoot them. The secret I’ve found with cats is fresh bait.

It’s funny that I asked you about cats the other day, because I trapped a healthy juvenile last night in my cage trap, using pork fat dunked in white vinegar, which keeps it good for an extra day, on average, and insects and invertebrates dislike it. Even blowflies stay away longer than normal. I’ve killed enough cats with meat and/or fat treated with vinegar, that I’m convinced that they either like it, or it doesn’t bother them.

In the cage, I’ve mounted a ceramic goose egg on top of a block of 4x2, to prevent it from being stolen. A golf ball would probably work just as well. I also have a Stoat PoaUku mounted on the block, because it stays good for ages and is weather-proof. I’m going to make a lure holder of some sort, so that I can use Erayz, etc. without it being eaten or stolen by small predators.

I’m going to collect some chicken feathers soon for the cage. A large egg, plus feathers, should attract some large cats!

Keep killing those cats. I’m trying to increase my numbers, so thanks for the tips.

Cheers.