Cam Speedy wants to equip volunteers with the knowledge and expertise needed to engage in successful predator control. He envisages a future of smart, connected people, all working together to hold the line against invasive species.
Cam Speedy is a highly experienced freelance wildlife biologist and predator control specialist based in the Central North Island. He has over 40 years of experience, working extensively with both native and introduced wildlife species. Working through Massey University, Department of Conservation, the Forest Service and private and corporate sectors, Cam has gained valuable experience and a deep understanding of the complexities of New Zealand’s unique ecosystems.
Cam’s career has been spent working with a wide range of species, including kiwi, takahe, kaka, and kokako, as well as introduced mammals such as deer, goats, and possums. Having a particular interest in Sika deer, Cam has been heavily involved in surveying and monitoring populations and studying the herd dynamics and habitats of the species. Cam has also been involved in numerous research projects, studying the ecology and behaviour of various wildlife species. Through this research, a better understanding of their needs and the challenges they face in their natural environments is gained, leading to the development and implementation of management plans to protect and conserve wildlife.
Cam is also involved in community education and outreach programs, helping to raise awareness about the importance of conserving and protecting New Zealand’s unique wildlife. Extremely generous in sharing his knowledge, Cam is very active in making presentations to conservation groups, helping them to get ahead in their predator control game. He has published many scientific papers and magazine articles and is a highly respected figure in the field of wildlife biology.
A passionate advocate for conservation, Cam is committed to ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the rich biodiversity that New Zealand has to offer. Tasman Environmental Trust caught up with Cam after a presentation he gave to Nelson and Tasman trappers late last year. The presentation was co-hosted by Tasman Environmental Trust and Predator Free NZ.
What do you love most about your job?
For me it’s about making a difference. To be able to take learnings from my career and my mentors and share them with people, who then start enjoying success, is what gets me out of bed – every day. When I get texts or emails from people sharing their new-found successes, that is my biggest reward.
Tell us a bit about where you live.
I live on a small rural property just north of Turangi near the lower Tongariro River where my family & I farm, grow, hunt and gather as much of our food as we can. It’s a simpe life, strongly connected to nature, with as small a footprint on her as we can possibly impose. We’ve planted many trees to attract birds and we trap hard out to create a haven for them. I check my 18 traps (around our five acres) every day, learning something new every time.
What do you see on the horizon for predator control that gets you excited?
People power! It is not widgets and gadgets that will get rid of predators, it is smart, connected people.
What makes you nervous?
A lack of good advice and mentoring. That is what I love most about Jessi’s team at PFNZ Trust.
Favourite native bird and why?
Kereru – Tane’s courier drivers! They are simply beautiful and play one of the most critical roles in our forests, delivering the future.
What contribution do you see volunteers having in the predator control area?
Knowledgeable, passionate, motivated volunteers will hold the line for many of our at-risk species until we crack the right recipes for landscape-scale predator removal. It will be a VERY important job over the next 10 years.
What could New Zealand use more of?
Open mindedness. Blinkered ideology over things like toxins and genetic tools is holding us back.
What’s your favourite saying?
Do what’s right, keep it simple and make it happen! That is how I live my life.
What is your top tip for backyard trappers?
It’s a long game. Win their confidence with food rewards and get them to teach each other what YOU want them to do. The secret is to know when to pull the trigger (use a trail-cam to help you with this). Often, a baited, unset trap is the best weapon.