Field-testing of a new stoat-killing device called the Spitfire will happen sooner than planned thanks to a donation from a family trust.
Each year 95 per cent of kiwi chicks die in the wild - half of these losses are attributed to stoats.
Lincoln University's Centre for Wildlife Management and Conservation has received a donation from the Gary Chisholm Family Trust which will help fast-track a predator-control project to quell stoat numbers and save thousands of kiwi chicks.
Thanks to the donation, field-testing of the Spitfire can progress ahead of schedule.
Dr Des Smith, who will lead the field trial, said the donation will make up about 25 per cent of the trial costs.
He said while controlling stoats to protect kiwi and other native birds isn't new, traditional traps are labour-intensive.
"They kill once and then have to be re-set. The Spitfire resets itself, targeting a large number of stoats before it needs to be serviced.
"As a result it has the potential to significantly reduce the number of kiwi chicks lost each year in a much more cost-effective way than traditional trapping.''
The Spitfire works by firing a paste containing the toxin para-aminopropiophenone onto the stoat as it passes through a tunnel. The device then re-sets.
When the stoat later grooms the paste from its fur, it ingests the toxin.
Trust spokesman Gary Chisholm said: ``The sound of New Zealand's native birds is something I want more people to experience. It's an amazing tie to our country and it is why we are supporting the centre's work with the pitfire field trials.''
Field-testing will take place in the Blue Mountains, Otago, from March 2013. This will be the first of two field trials needed for registration, and follows extensive lab trials.
The Spitfire is being developed as part of Pest Control for the 21st Century, a larger programme funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Programme manager Dr Elaine Murphy said: "Self-resetting devices like these will become an increasingly important part of pest control in New Zealand.
"We are also developing versions of the Spitfire that will target rats, ferrets, and feral cats. These use the same basic mechanism, but in different housings and with a range ofdifferent toxins."
The toxin PAPP was registered for use in 2011, following research at the Centre of Wildlife Management and Conservation, in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and Connovation Ltd.