Hampshire Sporting Estate Case Study

Hampshire Sporting Estate Case Study

 

Location: North Hampshire    

Situation: Agricultural Yard & Buildings

 

We took on a tough task to help manage a rodent infestation in Hampshire with the Goodnature A24 Trap. The main damage was being caused in the yard and surrounding buildings. The list of casualties included the Polaris wiring harness, New Holland hoses, pallets of pheasant food and dog food as well as miscellaneous damage to building structures and equipment. A passive pest management system was required as poison was a no go due to resident raptor & owl populations. Automatic traps were deemed a humane, cost effective tool to manage the rat population.

Our first point of call was the rodent indicator cards, we placed these in areas we believed  the rats would feel comfortable feeding. Initial interaction seemed poor, we moved the cards and found a better location with greater rat activity. Once we had established a place to deploy the traps, they were fixed on to the stands we made. We have found that using the traps at a rough 45 degree angle greatly increases rodent interaction. We had carried out a Risk, Impact & Wildlife assessment prior to this campaign; no hedgehogs or other non-target species were found.

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The traps were then deployed where we received the most interaction from rodents, we made sure that they were in areas that provided natural shelter and generally away from competing food sources. We chose not to trap on runs, these are used by rats to get to a food source, this is not generally somewhere they feel comfortable to feed; especially if in the open. The stands had been weathered and the traps handled by a non-smoker!

In all 8 traps were set, with 1 roaming (not in use) and 1 deployed with no lure.

 

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In the images above, natural shelter was used via the wooden posts, 2 were left open and one was covered loosely with an old lid from a water tank. The remaining traps were used close up to walls or structures. The weekly check showed signs of interaction, be it through the familiarisation of new objects by the rats or confirmed, humane dispatches.

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This shows just how quick rats are prepared to turn to cannibalism. The total count for the week was 3, we had hoped for more, however this was what we expected when overcoming the rats neophobia.

Week 2 was much the same, 7 rats down, with new A24 traps triggered more than once; we still had 2 traps untouched though!

We opted not to disturb the traps on week 3 and checked them on the 4th week instead.  This time everything had changed, 22 activation’s, every Goodnature A24 had been triggered at least once, with 2 traps activated 6 times. We only saw one body, which was hidden behind a trailer gate. The scavenging had begun, there had been reports of a badger in the yard, easy pickings for Brock. A Common Buzzard had also switched on to the free meals around the buildings.

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Week 5 threw a curve ball, one of our best performing automatic traps had suddenly switched off, one of the keepers had been picking up rats consistently from it. We noticed that the lure bottle had been chewed from the inside…ran out of gas! That’s 24 strikes, 24 less rats. An other was dispatching rats but the counter wasn’t registering. We replaced the C02 and changed the angle of the counter on the other; problem solved. The remainder were checked and lures refreshed.

We were tied up further, our final check was carried out at week 8. We did this under supervision of the head keeper. The trap that had previously ran out of gas was back up to 14. The total count for all traps was 101, although this is open to interpretation. The head keeper had activated one of the traps when moving it and 2 of the counters hadn’t recorded all strikes; this was due to the traps being set at an angle greater than 45 degrees. a minimum of 100 rats had been dispatched without poison and with only 5 checks from us in 8 weeks. Our last check showed a few pests that had been dispatched cleanly as always. We were catching, large adult rats, notoriously more difficult to trap.

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We were happy with the result, the rats did take some time before they felt comfortable interacting with the traps, however this is a tool that is capable of being left for extended periods of time; passively and humanely trapping behind the scenes. We will continue to carry out the odd check, just out of interest…

Summary

We certainly learnt a lot from this study, be it location and habitat to pushing the limits of the counter; everyone felt it was a success… even the hardened, skeptical keeper! The main points to note are:

  • Location is key, use the rodent detector cards and find heavy interaction before placing traps.
  • Angle! If in doubt, always place the trap at a 45degree angle, it has proven to increase interaction with the trap.
  • Don’t use the counter past 45-50degrees, the 2 metal plates that contact each other when activated do not register consistently.
  • Use natural shelter or something you have lying around, a rat will feed only where it feels some degree of security.
  • If need be, use the food source the rats are conditioned on in the trap, then clean up as much competing food as possible.
  • A weekly refresh of the the lure helps, although no necessary this is good practice; the dusty environment can impair the scent.
  • Last but not least, please get in touch if you don’t feel you are achieving the results you want; we want to help you.