Up until 1995, ferret control was usually only conducted by the Department of Conservation to protect threatened wildlife. Leg-hold traps (often gin-traps) were used, and trapping was restricted to small areas. Little was known about ferret behaviour and ecology on farmland.
Once the ferret was recognised as a possible vector of bovine TB, research attention and interest in ferret control escalated. When ferret control was introduced into the TB control programme (from about 1999 onwards), there was relatively little available knowledge on which to base ferret control strategies. Most managers indicated that they relied heavily on feedback and initiatives from operators and many managers did not have specifications on parameters such as trap density, trap spacing and where to place traps because they believed in allowing experienced operators the freedom to trap an area as they thought best.
Ferret control was being undertaken by people with varying levels of experience, therefore it was considered desirable to collate the knowledge that has been gained over the previous 5 years to produce this manual on best-practice ferret control techniques. This would ensure that suitable and adequate methods are being used where and when they are needed.
The manual incorporates information from persons involved in all levels of ferret control and can be used by anyone attempting ferret control in New Zealand. This manual was revised and updated in 2010.