About Squawk Squad

Put simply:

Trap pests. Save birds. Get notified. Make a difference.

Squawk Squad is a social enterprise that aims to connect and engage New Zealanders in the protection and growth of our native bird life.

The Problem

25 million New Zealand native birds are killed every year by pests that we didn’t invite to our shores and currently, 77 of our bird species are threatened with extinction. There are billions of predators including rats, stoats and possums that are killing off our wildlife and our native birds are at the receiving end of the destruction.

The general perception is that this epidemic is under control yet even the kiwi bird, our national icon is still decreasing at 2% every year. There are only 285 takahē in existence and 160 kākāpō, and our Yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho) is thought to be the rarest penguin in the world! This is only naming a few of our struggling native species.

The endangered kākāpō


What is Squawk Squad?

Squawk Squad connects people with sanctuaries by an app that gives them the ability to collectively invest in sensor-connected traps in aid of sanctuary projects. The investors can see where their trap is deployed in the sanctuary and are notified in real-time when their trap activates. This indicates the positive impact that their investment is having on native birdlife.

We use modern, self re-settable traps that trigger 24 times without any maintenance. Together with a live view of all traps and when they activate, sanctuaries are saved a considerable amount of labor time.

Cofounders Alex & Fraser post beta project install

How does it work?

We use self-resettable traps designed by Goodnature that are focused towards rats, stoats and possums. They are gas powered for 24 shots without any re-setting needed and their automatic lures last for 6 months. We use a sensor node designed by Encounter Solutions that we have developed towards sanctuary use. By leveraging the most modern technology available, we have created a self-reporting and self-resettable trap.

Trapping System - Goodnature A24 and Encounter Solutions node

When the trap is triggered, the attached sensor node relays the trapping event data from the trap to a base station via a deployable low-frequency radio network. Utilising satellite, a live notification is then sent to the sanctuary and users’ apps. This makes for a solution that can be deployed anywhere in the world.

Trapping System notification function

Self-resettable traps can be expensive so a Squawk Squad is created to break down the cost of conservation into bite size pieces. Each Squad member contributes to the total cost of the trap, sensor node and full set-up. Sanctuaries receive our traps and technology at no cost and are only responsible for the gas and lure replacements. Each member of the squad sees where their trap is deployed. They are then notified every time the trap activates with the positive impact they are having on native bird life.

Squawk Squad's in action

What does this mean for sanctuaries?

Locating, checking, clearing and resetting conventional traps is extremely time-consuming and inefficient. We equip sanctuaries with a live view of all our funded traps when they activate and therefore when they need refuelling, resulting in a significant decrease in labour time. This could mean that traps only have to be checked every 6 months versus once every week!

To put that into perspective, over 3 years a 500 trap grid of our trapping systems can save over 10,000 hours of labour time or 1,300 worker days!

This enables our partnered sanctuaries to expand the areas they protect and focus the time of their trained staff on more technically demanding and tangibly rewarding tasks such as the reintroduction of species.

Cofounder Fraser celebrating after investigating trapping event