Drone to kill unwanted insurgents on New Zealand soil

And I’m not joking

Scott Sambell and his dog Millie are finding that keeping Glenfern Sanctuary pest-free can be hard work.

The 240 hectare peninsula is cordoned off by a pest-proof fence to protect native wildlife, but that doesn’t stop a handful of unwanted predators making their way in every year.

“We’ve got over 1000 monitoring stations on here which you try and get to at least once a month,” says Mr Sambell, who manages the sanctuary.

That means if a predator is detected, it could have up to a month’s headstart to get away from Mr Sambell’s team.

“The whole point of this is that we just don’t know what is going out there, and it’s crazy that with all this technology that we’ve got, why can’t we know these things?”

Mr Sambell vented his frustration to inventor Gian Badraun, who’s come up with the Trap Minder, a monitoring system that sends instant alerts by email, text, a computer program or smartphone app the instant a pest is detected.

That means biosecurity workers can act immediately to eradicate the pest, but soon they may not even need to move a muscle.

Eventually the Trap Minder system will communicate directly with a drone which could be set to automatically fly to the GPS coordinates of the incursion.

On one level, that’s so cool.  Yet on another, how do we stop people from implementing these on their own properties?  In their own gardens?  And will they know now to shoot at the kid that’s coming over the fence  just to get his tennis ball back?

For now, the drone is piloted by a person, and it’s armed with deadly artillery.

“As soon as we have that detection we can act on it by loading a bait station on the drone and sending the drone to those GPS coordinates to drop the bait station – and hopefully by then the rat is still there,” says Mr Badraun.

Mr Badraun won $25,000 at the inaugural Conservation Innovation Awards run by WWF for his invention.

Mr Sambell is trialling 20 Trap Minders over the summer at Glenfern Sanctuary, and he says the system’s potential is huge for the rest of the country’s reserves – especially uninhabited pest-free islands.

“Imagine if you had a drone sitting out there on that island. Someone in Auckland’s sitting there, they get a message on their mobile phone that says ‘You’ve just got an incursion on this uninhabited pest-free island, the drone is taking off and it’s about to drop bait out there.’ That is going to save a hell of a lot of time and money and headaches,” says Mr Sambell.

And that’s time Mr Sambell says will better spent on other vital time-consuming jobs like planting trees.

Can you imagine sitting in Auckland, and you get a message on your mobile that says “You’ve just got an incursion on this secret marijuana plot, the drone has taken off, and it’s about to engage the intruder”.

Just sayin’

– 3 News

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.