New Zealand to Eradicate all Introduced RodentsKeith
New Zealand plans to exterminate all rats, possums and other pests by 2050 in a world-first program designed to protect native birds such as the Kiwi.
John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister, said the plan – which the government likened to the first moon landing – is due to begin next year and will use a mix of fences, traps, baits, poisons and new techno stuff.
Introduced predators such as rats and stoats kill about 25 million native birds every 12 months.
“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,”
The project will aim to clear all offshore island nature reserves of predators by 2025 as well as 20,000 hectares across the South Island and North Island.
Rats first arrived in New Zealand as “stowaways” on canoes carrying Polynesian settlers in the 1200s and on ships carrying British and other European settlers in the 1800s
By then, according to Mr Key, a scientific method will have hopefully been developed which could remove at least one of the pests from the entire mainland.
The hope is that by 2050 every part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums,” he said.
Other creatures were deliberately introduced “to solve one problem, but created another”.
Stoats, for instance, were brought from Britain in the 1870s to control rabbits but quickly spread and took eggs from nests and killed young native birds. Cats first came on Captain James Cook’s ship in the late 1700s and have since spread into the wild, where they eat on birds, lizards and insects.
Mr Key said introduced pests cause just under 2 billion pounds of damage each year to the environment and farms, including the spread of diseases which affect cattle and deer.