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Kiwis take backyard trapping to new level through COVID

Data from one of New Zealand’s leading innovators in predator-free technology suggests Kiwis double down on pest control in their backyards when in COVID lockdown, with some impressive results.


Wellington-based company Goodnature – which has developed a toxin-free automatic trap that humanely kills rats and stoats – has seen trapping activity jump since the first Covid lockdown last year, spiking each lockdown, with more than three times the number of target pests now killed each month, compared with before the outbreak.


Kiwis have doubled down on pest control in their backyards when in COVID lockdown, with some impressive results.


“Since COVID hit, Kiwis have been spending more time at home, they are noticing more pests, especially rats in the backyard, and are more active in wanting to get rid of them,” Goodnature co-founder Robbie Van Dam says.


Goodnature traps are currently killing almost 300 rats and stoats each day across the country, many in urban areas.


“It’s great to see so many Kiwis getting behind the effort, and its exactly what New Zealanders need to do if we are going to achieve the goal of becoming predator free by 2050,” Van Dam says.


“It’s great to see so many Kiwis getting behind the effort, and its exactly what New Zealanders need to do if we are going to achieve the goal of becoming predator free by 2050.”

Robbie Van Dam, Co-founder, Goodnature.



Five years ago, then-Prime Minister Sir John Key announced the ambitious goal of ridding New Zealand of stoats, rats and possums by 2050.


Recent reports suggest strong progress is being made, with the investment in research and development - including Goodnature’s A24 trap – now beginning to pay off.


Rather than using toxic rat poison, A24 traps use a tasty-smelling lure to attract pests - before instantly killing them using a CO2-powered striker - leaving nothing nasty in the environment for dogs or other animals to eat.


Able to function in this way 24 times before needing to be reset, the traps are becoming popular worldwide, with Goodnature set to disrupt a global market projected to be worth USD$3.9 billion by 2027.


“We've tripled sales globally, especially in countries that have banned household chemicals for rat control - they need non-toxic, humane alternatives and we're one of the only ones in this market,” Van Dam says.


Described as a “10-year overnight success story”, Goodnature’s growth has been underpinned by a strong focus on design and innovation.    


“From the beginning, we knew we needed to challenge the way pest control was being done,” Goodnature co-founder Craig Bond says.


It seemed that the loss of biodiversity was completely preventable if we could think critically about the current solutions and come up with alternatives that we could make work.


“We needed to come up with something that would help the country scale up its eradication effort – and to do that we needed to make the technology better and better all the time - keep refining it.


“It was clear to me that we should be the ones to improve this thing, not our competition, or another country - we needed to lead that.”


Goodnature’s latest innovation – tiny single-use biodegradable rat traps, which can be dropped in relatively high densities from a drone or helicopter - recently received a $1.3 million development grant from Government.


Still in development, the shuttle-cock-sized prototypes will biodegrade over a couple of months, leaving no waste or toxins.


It’s an approach to innovation and problem solving that is winning the company broad support.


“Goodnature’s overall approach to innovation and design - their constant effort to do better – to stay ahead of the competition and constantly find ways to make the traps more efficient and more effective – really makes them a standout,” ANZ New Zealand Managing Director of Business Banking Lorraine Mapu says.


“We’ve always seen the potential in what they are doing - not just for the country, but also for the wider world – and have always taken the time to understand and support the business.”


A recent survey conducted by the Department of Conservation shows just over a quarter of New Zealanders aged over 18 have set up a predator trap in their garden, with another third of Kiwis interested in doing so.


Goodnature sees this strong interest in trapping as part of a growing sense of collective responsibility when it comes to protecting the country’s biodiversity.


“We see that people doing this in their backyards as a gateway to doing more considerate things to the wider environment," Van Dam says.


“We want to make trapping as simple as recycling – so there's no reason for us all not to get involved.”



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