How the Magpie Trip Trap came to be.
Neale Blaymires first started controlling magpies in the mid 1990's after they began invading neighbouring native bush which was home to kereru and tui.
At first he used a shotgun, and after blowing a few to smithereens the remaining magpies made themselves scarce for a couple of weeks, but after returning they were extremely wary of anyone carting around a loud shooting stick.
Next up was a silenced .22 rifle, which was very effective when shooting from cover. By hiding under the canopy of a neigbouring kiwifruit orchard it was easy to shoot magpies while they sat in tall shelter trees and a couple of dozen were easily dispatched. However they rapidly became even more gun shy and it was almost impossible to sneak up on them. Finding a safe elevation when shooting into trees was very limiting as well.
Next up was a magpie distress tape to lure them into shooting range, however the magpies all sat well out of range in surrounding trees, gawking to see what was going on.
Next up was trapping the magpies with a traditional timber Larsen trap. The trap caught a few magpies, however it was soon apparent that the magpies were not very keen on hopping down into the Larsen trap's capture compartments. After some tinkering Neale created a walk in trap which used a floor treadle to set off the door. It worked well and after developing a few prototypes he came up with the Magpie Trip Trap in 1998.
The Magpie Trip Trap was exhibited the following year at the 1999 National Fieldays, winning a James & Wells Equipment Award. Sales of his unique magpie trap took off, and Neale has returned to exhibit at the National Fieldays every year since then. One of the benefits of exhibiting is meeting past customers and finding out what has worked well with the magpie traps, and also what hasn't. One the biggest issues has been providing good trapping instructions with the traps. It's no use supplying two pages of typed instructions if it's going to sit in a dresser drawer unread. After years of speaking with hundreds of customers Neale has refined the instructions to a set of concise trapping guidelines, which are permanently attached to the traps on a weatherproof label. It's the 'secret sauce' that helps make these easy to use magpie traps even more effective.
However ten years later the original 1998 design was getting rather tired and was well overdue for complete revamp. The original trap worked extremely well for trapping magpies, however the mesh was easily damaged, food would get caught under the trigger plate, and the large area of the folded metal frame meant it could be picked up by high winds on exposed paddocks, then fired at speed into fences. It also didn't survive inquisitive cows very well.
After plenty of tinkering, banging, welding and testing on unsuspecting magpies, Neale developed the Model 2 Magpie Trip Trap, which was released at the June 2009 National Fieldays. It was still a two compartment walk in trap with similar dimensions, but was otherwise all new. The current versions of the Magpie Trip Trap are all variants of the 2009 design.