1492461941114 - Squawk Squad to bring bird conservation to your fingertips

Squawk Squad to bring bird conservation to your fingertips

Native bird conservation could soon be as accessible as a push notification to your phone.

Squawk Squad is an Auckland business that plans to use an app to connect people across the country to rat traps. Each time a trap kills a rodent a notification is sent to users who have contributed money the enterprise.

Squawk Squad will use gas powered rat-traps from Wellington company Goodnature and wireless sensor networks from Auckland company Encounter Solutions.

Each trap costs $400. Squawk Squad wants 20 pledgers per trap, each contributing $20 through a Kickstarter campaign beginning on May 1.

READ MORE: * Traps lure, ‘whack’, kill rodents to help make NZ ‘predator-free’ by 2050  * New traps trigger big decline in rats at Pelorus * Pest trap knocking off range of critters

Pledgers get a push notification sent to their phone each time the trap they sponsor makes a kill.

The conservation tool, which was thought up by Grey Lynn resident Fraser McConnell and North Shore business partner Alex Hannon, won the social enterprise category in Startup Weekend Auckland in November.

Startup Weekends are events that happen across the world, where entrepreneurs spend 54 hours sharing ideas and building products. Teams go from an idea scrawled on a napkin to a working prototype within a single weekend.

McConnell said Squawk Squad aimed to be the “gamification of conservation”.

Squawk Squad’s app was designed to build a wider audience and foster greater conservation engagement.

“We believe that if we can connect a lot more people to the process of conservation then we can make much more of a big difference,” McConnell said. 

Forest and Bird estimates 25 million native birds are killed by introduced predators every year. 

Those who contribute to the traps get to see exactly where the traps are being deployed in sanctuaries.

Each trap can kill 24 rats before its gas canister needs to be reset, compared to a traditional trap that needs to be reset after every rat.

If the traps do not reach capacity they can be left without being checked for six months. 

Rat corpses piling up was not an issue, because other scavengers tended to take the bodies away, Hannon said. 

The group is currently trialling the product in Ark in the Park, which is a rainforest in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges.​

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