“It’s not what you catch that matters. It’s what you leave behind.”
This is the mantra that we promote when it comes to protecting kiwi, and it is the same mantra behind the passion that John brings to his work to protect, restore and monitor environmental projects. He is that rare professional in his field who has the ability to do the work to a high standard, but also to teach others. He understands the animal(s) he is hunting and thinks outside the box for what tools and methods to use. And it is this that he conveys to others – understanding not just the how, but the why.
We are fortunate to have John on board as our National Predator Advisor at Save the Kiwi, supporting kiwi conservation projects with training, one-on-one support, and his strategic input at a national level into how we (collectively) can do better.”
Michelle Impey – Manahautū Executive Director, Save the Kiwi
"The Aorangi Restoration Trust has worked with John in a range of areas including practical operations, advice and governance. John gives sage advice; considered, thoughtful, and knowledgeable across a wide range of areas. He’s thorough – up front, communicates well and directly, and shares information."
Bob Burgess Project Manager, Aorangi Restoration Trust
"John has long experience in the conservation field and couples his high standards and attention to detail with a willingness to find and employ new technologies and techniques in the constant quest for a better result. John specialises in predator control around the protection of highly susceptible species such as kiwi and kōkako. This sort of work, where we are sometimes targeting one individual animal, involves a different skill set to more general control and John is skilled at both.
In summary, I believe John has a very smart and strategic mind, coupled with the motivation and energy to deliver results in the field that makes him one of New Zealand’s most skilled restoration pest control contractors."
Todd Jenkinson Conservation Manager, Pūkaha / Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre
“John Bissell was employed by the Tongariro District Office, Department of Conservation during April 2018 to assist with a large ferret predation event on kiwi in Tongariro Forest Kiwi Sanctuary.
John spent two days with our kiwi team, training them up on how to respond to a ferret-kiwi predation event. He trained the team in ferret behaviour and ecology, best trap type, trapping regimes, trap placement, individual trap set up, baiting etc. Although our team had responded to such predation events before, it felt like a much more “scattergun” approach. Accordingly, we had only had limited success over the last decade with our ferret-kiwi kill responses. John gave us hope and optimism in a time where we did not have a great deal!
At first I was, admittedly, reluctant to spend the money to contract external services, despite knowing the huge cost that we were facing in losing so many kiwi. My reluctance came from feeling that surely we had the skills within our Department to respond to such an event? However, the difference with John is that he not only is a ferret trapping expert, but he is a ferret trapping expert specifically in response to kiwi kills. He is an expert in hunting an individual animal in a huge landscape. What also made the difference was that he came on site with us for those two days – having face to face time with him was invaluable. His fees were extremely reasonable and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone else that he is well worth every cent!
The feedback from the team was that having John come and help us was the turning point for us. Our response became targeted, and after getting a fresh kiwi kill we were able to respond as John had trained us, and we promptly caught the large male ferret responsible for up to 8 kiwi kills.
John has a friendly, professional, practical and extremely capable manner. He is genuine in his will to help. His advice formed the ferret response plan that we have in place now to deal with future ferret predations.
I would highly recommend John to anyone seeking assistance in pest control work, or other such biodiversity work.”
Alison Beath Senior Ranger (Biodiversity), Tongariro District Office, Department of Conservation
“John Bissell, Director of Backblocks Environmental Management Ltd, has been advising the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust now for two years on predator control. Several key factors mean that he was our “Go-To” person when we had a predator kill two of our monitored kiwi at Maungataniwha this month. Firstly there was his obvious experience and his ability to quickly formulate a response plan, combined with this was his approachability and his readiness to assist, along with his skill in helping identify what we were up against. On top of this was John’s passion to get the predator, his determination to help us put our best methods in place to catch the predator was a real boost in our response.
There are very few people in the country that currently have the experience, ability, grit and enthusiasm he possesses with regard to predator control. This shone through at last year’s Kiwi Hui held at Hastings where he led a session on trapping predators. The vibe at the end of his session was one of enthused commitment, his knowledge, professionalism and enthusiasm had empowered the other trappers attending the session. I personally found it the most worthwhile part of the whole two day hui.
I would have no hesitation in recommending him as a trapper and/or trainer or skill sharer on any project in the country where predator control is a key factor.”
Pete Shaw Land Manager for the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust
“The team at Bay Conservation Alliance (Bay of Plenty) have had the pleasure of working with John for over two years now. Our relationship began with engaging John to run a Predator Control workshop with our member group volunteers and this has now grown into regular engagements three times a year.
John now supports our employment, training and development programme called Bay Conservation Cadets – Tauira Mahi. This is in the form of an intensive 4-day training programme supporting 11 adult cadets to get a full insight into predator control ethics, methodologies, practical application and the thinking required to succeed in the field. This is a standout component of our training programme and is highly valued by all the participants.
John has a very open approach to sharing his knowledge which has an incredible impact on both our training cadets and volunteers. He shows great commitment and care to all the engagements we have undertaken with him and brings credibility and respect to the Kaupapa.
We thoroughly enjoy working with John and highly recommend his services.”
Michelle Elborn CEO, Bay Conservation Alliance
“As a project that strives to stay at the leading edge of predator control, we are continually seeking improvements in our methodology. As part of this, we recently invited
John to come to Whakatāne and spend a few days with us to review our predator control programme, make suggestions around the targeted expansion of our trap network and to provide mentoring and training for our volunteers and contractors. We all gained a huge amount from John's visit, especially the need to develop a different mindset when dealing with certain predators. John's passion is undeniable, and he has the experience and knowledge to back this up. On top of this, he is both professional and friendly and we look forward to a continued relationship with him.”
Wayne O'Keefe Operations Manager, Whakatāne Kiwi Trust
“Thanks to John Bissell for a great week. John has equipped our team with so much knowledge, inspiration and tips and tricks to maximise our trapping efforts! We would highly recommend a visit from John to any groups. Think like a ferret!”
Karioi Project Raglan