Environment

New Zealand aims to eradicate invasive predators – including rats

New Zealand aims to eradicate ...
The New Zealand government has announced that it plans to make the country completely free of invasive predators, including rats, by 2050
The New Zealand government has announced that it plans to make the country completely free of invasive predators, including rats, by 2050
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The New Zealand government has announced that it plans to make the country completely free of invasive predators, including rats, by 2050
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The New Zealand government has announced that it plans to make the country completely free of invasive predators, including rats, by 2050

Anyone who's ever dealt with rats in their home knows how hard it can be to completely clear out the pests, but the New Zealand government plans to achieve it on a national scale – and not just with rats. Prime Minister John Key announced this week that the country is aiming to be completely free of introduced predators, including rats, stoats and possums, by 2050.

"While once the greatest threat to our native wildlife was poaching and deforestation it is now introduced predators," says Key. "Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them."

The details of exactly how are up to a new joint venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited, which will seek out viable predator control projects, and attract co-investors to help scale them up and increase their chances of success.

With introduced pests costing the country's economy an estimated NZ$3.3 billion (US$2.3 billion) each year, the government will invest NZ$28 million (US$19.6 million) into the venture, as well as chipping in an extra 50 percent of the amount invested by local councils and private companies.

Some of the methods currently used by the NZ government in the past have been controversial, including aerial drops of 1080 poison, which can lead to a slow and painful death – and which the NZ government says will continue. But with much of this funding going towards designing new technologies, hopefully less cruel alternatives can be developed.

"This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it," says Key.

Source: New Zealand government [1],[2]

6 comments
Robert Walther
The only good rat is a dead rat, especially in non native habitats. I really hope that some fanatic group does not ramp up bizarro rat 'rights' arguments.
Tanstar
Using US dollars for convenience, if you are losing $2.3 billion a year to a problem, investing less than $2 million in the solution seems stupid. Granted, sometimes throwing more money at a problem doesn't help. Sounds to me like they need a bunch of cats imported. Then, when the cats take care of all of the rats and possums and stoats, import coyotes to take care of the cats. Once the cats are gone, import bolt action rifles :)
ArtofSpeed
The indiscriminate aerial dropping of poison hardly seems to me what i would call (environmentally friendly?)
PG
In the above picture, they are peculiar looking RATS. They look more like possums. Notice the long nose and the large ears..... Or can someone point out exactly which rat species this is?
Nik
If the government put a ransom on each creature, 'dead or alive' then it would encourage the whole population to join in the hunt. England managed to eradicate the Coypu [a giant rat] from the Norfolk Broads and surroundings, many years ago. They were a real danger to crops and people, as they undermined dikes, which could cause collapse, as well as consuming crops. With no natural predators, they could reproduce at will, and they did, and being the size of a small to medium dog, they also had healthy appetites. It has been suggested that the collapse of the protective levies by hurricane Katrina may have been exacerbated by extensive undermining by Coypu. Rats being smaller, and breeding faster and in greater numbers will be very difficult to eradicate, as they can hide very effectively. Perhaps a biological eradicator like myxomatosis as used on rabbits could be part of the answer.
JaimeGonzalez
Using 1080 is really a bizarre method. Plenty of videos showing it landing in streams, breaking down in streams, harming all kinds of animal populations outside the target group. This is not a solution.