Goodnature has created a light and easy-to-use trap that kills humanely without the need for poisons.
In December 2016, we made about 1,000 traps — now we’re making 1,300 traps per week and it’s not quite enough, so we’re working on scaling up our production line.
What do you do?
Goodnature has created a light and easy-to-use trap that kills humanely without the need for poisons. The automatic traps, which instantaneously kill pest animals and then reset themselves, can be used everywhere from suburban backyards to national parks.
There are two types of trap: one specifically for possums and another for rats, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs and mice, which has been optimised for trapping just rats and mice in other countries. The traps have small CO2 canisters, which power a set number of lethal shots and reset themselves after each one. The canisters need only be changed at six-monthly intervals.
Goodnature co-founder Stu Barr says part of the design process involves keeping out the animals you don’t want to trap, such as the relentlessly curious weka. This is achieved through the trap design and choice of lures, following extensive observation and testing.
What’s different about Goodnature?
Goodnature’s product saves time and money without resorting to inhumane trapping methods such as glueboards. The traps don’t need manual resetting because they’re mounted so that the animal falls to the ground. Compared with some existing traps, the Department of Conservation (DoC) saves $88 per trap per year by not having to send staff to reset them more often than every six months. With Fiordland alone having 10,000 traps, that amounts to significant savings for New Zealand’s national park management and offers particular advantages for remote settings.
How did you start?
Goodnature was formed by industrial design graduates Robbie Van Dam, Stu Barr and Craig Bond, who had previously completed an engineering degree. During time spent volunteering with DoC, Robbie had identified that inefficiencies would inevitably prevent a true conservation outcome — recovering native species and, eventually, the eradication of all pests — because the trapping methods then in use could never catch up and keep pace with pest spread.
Incorporated as a company in November 2005, Goodnature produced its first product in 2009, but it took seven years of refinements to reach the high-performance level needed to go to market. From a very early stage, the business had support from Callaghan Innovation’s predecessors, with interns and PhD students funded to support R&D work.
Stu says Goodnature has been involved with Callaghan Innovation since its inception, and has seen the organisation’s value to businesses steadily grow alongside Goodnature’s own growth. He says Callaghan Innovation’s input, from providing expert help and resources to grant funding, has given Goodnature a head start: “We’ve been able to leap ahead with some of our research and felt confident to take on some risk. The speed and quality of our product development has increased, and we can lead the global charge in pest control.”
Where are you going next?
As rapidly as Goodnature’s knowledge and awareness grows about pest technology, so does its expectations. Stu says, “We still consider ourselves an R&D company, and that’s what will sustain us into the future.”
“Ours is the only product of its kind just now — by the time any others catch up, we’ll already be ahead in other areas.”
Sales are exploding, with exports fast approaching half the company’s revenue — up from 11% a year ago. Sales to home owners and farmers make up 40% of domestic sales, with the rest to community groups, councils, iwi and government. The traps are sold directly from Goodnature’s website within New Zealand, and distributorships have been established throughout the world.
Stu Barr says the potential markets for Goodnature’s products are unlimited, as New Zealand is not alone in having introduced animals that have become a nuisance — “everywhere in the world has a story like ours” — and the traps can be customised to suit. Traps are currently under development for American mink, mongoose and squirrels in places where those animals have become pests.
A ban on inhumane traps and poisons in Scandinavia has created a surge in demand for Goodnature’s traps. “In December 2016, we made about 1,000 traps − now we’re making 1,300 traps per week and it’s not quite enough, so we’re working on scaling up our production line to get it to 2,500 traps per week,” says Stu. “That still may not be enough at our rate of growth.”
|A Matter of Facts|
|Headquarters and manufacturing: Newtown, Wellington|
|Primary export markets: Northern Europe, North America, Australia|
|Callaghan Innovation services
R&D Growth Grant and R&D Project Grant: co-funding Goodnature’s R&D programme to boost its scale.
R&D expertise: using Callaghan Innovation’s own researchers to provide expertise in niche aspects of R&D, complementing Goodnature’s own team.
Better by Lean: applying a Lean Thinking lens to Goodnature’s operational systems.
Updated: 14 June 2022