Being heavily involved in pest trapping on several fronts (on our own properties, where I live in Christchurch, and starting this group) one thing I often hear whenever I talk to trappers is that “There are a lot fewer pest X’s now”, or “They have nearly all gone because we’re not catching any”. And today when I heard a similar response, the rationale was that “people in urban environments hear them, they know if they are there”. I hesitate to say this, but I think that some trappers are stuck in a time warp, because what we physically observe as humans (because that was the only option we had) is now less relevant.
In my old world, project decisions were often influenced by the “HiPPO” (highest paid persons opinion), and the counter response to that always was, well let’s use data to help drive the decision, rather than what we think. In the trapping world it seems people are willing to let their senses, and opinion, override rationale.
So like in business, we need to let data drive decisions in pest eradication, not opinion or personal judgement.
And the best way to do that is not with chew cards or tracking tunnels, but with cameras. Cameras remove all bias, even that of the pest, because if it walks by, it’s recorded. No interaction required. It’s irrefutable.
I’ve been fortunate to borrow a Cacophony Project camera that has given me a level of data and visibility that historically would be very hard to compile. I’m currently analysing our stats, but it looks like I am lucky enough to get a possum interaction rate of around 54% across all recordings, with around 12% of possums being trapped. Turning that around, 46% walked by and 88% weren’t trapped. Actually, this isn’t quite true because there are individual recordings, not possums, but you get the point. Without the data, I could have assumed I’d done my job, time to move on.
But not true, see the recent clip below. A classic example of a possum not being caught, which without the camera I could have made an erroneous assumption …
Of course, this is not any camera. This is a Thermal predator camera with machine vision, developed by The Cacophony Project and sold via 2040 LTD. The camera detects movement, uploads it to the Cloud, then using AI it classifies and aggregates the pest recordings and counts. It’s also a classic example of how compelling and addictive data can be!
I’ll talk more about camera options later. But the key point here, is that whatever our line of business, we need to remind ourselves that it’s data, in conjunction with good analysis, that drives better outcomes.