New Zealand announces plan to exterminate all rats

Government estimates pests cost economy NZ$3.3bn (£1.76bn) a year

Wednesday 27 July 2016 10:09 BST
Government plans to complete extermination of rats, stoats and possums by 2050
Government plans to complete extermination of rats, stoats and possums by 2050 (Getty Images)

The New Zealand government has announced a project to the rid country of rats and other predators by 2050.

John Key, the Prime Minister, said the country would undertake a “world first” extermination programme aimed at making the introduced species of rats, stoats and possums extinct within 34 years.

He said in a statement: “Our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.

“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.”

Species introduced to New Zealand kill 25 million native birds a year, including the national bird, the Kiwi, of which 20 die per week, according to the government. It says the estimated financial cost of the species is NZ$3.3bn (£1.76bn) a year.

Rob Fenwick, the chair of the Predator Free New Zealand trust, who are leading the programme, told The New Zealand Herald it would allow a military-level response to the problem for the first time.

"It's a real game-changer. We've been killing predators now for decades and in the past it's been quite an un-strategic approach to this campaign.

"This fund will drive a more strategic and comprehensive approach to a landscape-scale assault on predators that we haven't seen before."

Chris Liddell, director of the Next Foundation, who invests in large-scale pest control, added the goal of complete eradication was achievable if the whole country got behind it.

"It's a big vision and it's what we need," he said.

"Having the Government leading the way is really important."

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