In 1995, Harold Weekes, a Taihape farmer, engineer, and inventor, was approached by a member of the Pest Destruction Board and asked to design a possum trap.
Harold consulted with a variety of potential users to identify their needs, including regional councils, the Department of Conservation, and trappers. This allowed him to establish a number of criteria for his trap. It had to be humane, versatile, reliable, lightweight, durable, species-selective, and cost effective.
Harold returned to an ancient form of trap, the noose, to come up with his initial prototype. Further consultation with users and experiments in the field provided positive feedback and helped him to refine his invention. The refinements included making the trap effective for a wider variety of pests, adding the cat-stop face plate, and ensuring that the design is light and easy to carry in the bush.
The trap's success has been recognised by a number of awards and this encouraged Harold to establish a family business to manufacture and market what is now known as the Possum Master Kill Trap.
To find out more about the damage possums cause in the New Zealand bush, visit the Department of Conservation's website. Many possums are infected with bovine Tb, and the Animal Health Board carries out control operations in many parts of the country.