21 Jan 2014

Pest trap takes off

10:17 am on 21 January 2014

Three Wellington designers started work on a revolutionary pest trap for the Department of Conservation (DOC) nearly a decade ago.

Nine years on and Goodnature's automatic resetting trap is sold worldwide, including to a zoo in India, a chicken farm in Indonesia and, most recently, the Galapagos Islands.

The company manufactures up to 600 traps a week in its Wellington factory, and has more than doubled its workforce.

It is in talks with distributors in Britain and working with Scandinavian governments on a humane trap for the introduced American mink.

Goodnature director Stu Barr said the gas canister driven traps had come a long way since the first version in 2005.

"The resetting technology is obviously important because that generates efficiency and it also means that the trap is always available. You don't want to miss an opportunity - if you kill a rat just after sunset and then a stoat comes along at one o'clock in the morning, you want to know that your trap is always ready to do it," Mr Barr said.

"It's also met the humane standard. You don't want to just injure them or trap them and leave them there to suffer, you want to kill them instantly every time."

That "instant kill" standard did not have to be met by law but the company choose to set as theirs.

It was also a complete system, so those buying it got everything they needed - the trap, the lure and the gas canister which drives it.

The trio got an innovation grant from DOC, which met about 30% of the total cost of developing the trap, and Mr Barr said they would not have been able to do it without the funding.

"It cost us a lot more than we imagined to get it into production but that was the funding that got us through those first couple of years. We kept on doing consultancy contracts to pay the bills until we had a product to start selling," he said.

"For the past three years we've been cashflowing the business ourselves."